“I dedicate this piece to all who made the Scootathon possible. Thank you to all my Scootathon team who helped me complete this challenge, Moira, Heidi, Mark, Bill, Eric, Emma, and Sarah. Thanks to Councillor Bagshaw for sending me off. Thank you to Jim at All Mobility. Thank you to Jannica Honey for photographing the send-off. Thank you to David at Laid Back Bikes. A huge thank you to all who supported this Scootathon.”
Scooting for Freedom
Opening my eyes, immediately thoughts began entering my mind…. must do a grocery shop, no I will put a wash on first…… no Nada…. it’s the day of your Scootathon!! I leaped out of bed, (the best way possible!) got ready and double checked all the items that were laid out ready to be packed in Emma’s car. Emma and Eric were arriving at eight o’clock, so I best get my wheels moving!
This was the start of one of the biggest days I have experienced. It was during one of our Freedom From Torture Edinburgh supporters’ group committee meetings in Summer/Autumn 2015 where I made a suggestion to my committee members to do a sponsored Scootathon. This was received with great enthusiasm by my fellow committee members. So, we set a date, and it was to be 19th of March 2016. Moira and Heidi immediately offered to help me with the planning. We then individually began working out a plan. My initial idea was to go on my mobility scooter along the Water of Leith Walkway. This idea came to me in 2014 when I was scooting along the walkway. Unfortunately I got stuck at the Dean Village section, where there are several steps up a section of the walkway. My thoughts had developed after our group had carried out fundraising events on the walkway by walking, so I then thought, why not scoot?!
The beginning of 2016, I managed to get other people on board for the idea of the Scootathon. There was David from Laid Back Bikes in Marchmont. David has worked tirelessly at accessible cycle paths and routes, so he was very happy to help. Eric, who has supported and encouraged the idea of travelling on my scooter and exploring a wide range of places, Emma, Eric’s daughter offered to help on the day, in particular she offered her car to be the support vehicle on the day. Sarah also a supporter of Freedom From Torture, helped cover the Scootathon on social media. My Scootathon team was taking shape!
Dean Village Steps (by Scootathon Team)
There was the idea and the enthusiasm, now it was down to realistic planning. So, we all got together to make this possible. How could I get my scooter up those steps at Dean Village…..? “We could have ramps ready” someone said….! Other voices said, there is really rough terrain in parts… “We could highlight the fact that the Water of Leith walkway is really inaccessible?!” No, I thought, let’s not make this a disability rights issue, my Scootathon is raising money for survivors of torture. So, thinking caps on again for a different route. A route to Cramond from Broughton Road using the cycle paths was suggested. Moira and Heidi literally got on their bikes for their first Scootathon reconnaissance mission. They thoroughly investigated the accessibility of the paths and facilities on the route. They reported back that it is around six miles, and easy for the scooter. As much as I appreciated their efforts, I didn’t feel this was quite the challenge on my mind. Back to the drawing board… David made a suggestion of crossing the Forth Bridge to North Queensferry. I then began to realise this could really be a challenge for a fundraiser! Moira, Heidi and Bill Brownlee, a friend of Moira’s then went on more recces of the route to make sure of its safety and facilities available. The route was then set from Craigleith to North Queensferry. We then contacted the Forth bridge authorities to confirm the bridge would be open on the day.
Scooting across the bridge for freedom (by Scootathon Team)
Meanwhile, I received devastating news of my mother in Gaza being diagnosed with lung and brain cancer. All I then was thinking of was how I could be with her. But then the reality of the situation was not as simple. Travelling to the occupied Palestinian territories was not easy at all. So, with the support of my Scootathon team and good friends I kept up to date with my mum’s condition, and focussed on commitments here. Focussing on the Scootathon helped me enormously.
Councillor Nigel Bagshaw and Nada (by Jannica Honey)
The 19th of March 2016 arrived. Emma and Eric loaded up Emma’s car with everything needed for every eventuality! This was a mini, amazing what could fit in it! I contacted the bridge authorities the day before to confirm that the bridge would be open. All packed in Emma’s car, we arrived in Craigleith where the rest of the Scootathon team were gathered, with Councillor Nigel Bagshaw and international photographer Jannica Honey who photographed the send-off for free, for Freedom From Torture. Many friends also gathered to support the Scootathon, which was very touching. The sky was amazingly blue! The sun was the brightest it had been all winter. I had been ready with extra fleeces and blankets, but none were needed. Councillor Bagshaw gave a lovely speech for sending me off.
Scootathon team at send off (by Jannica Honey)
Shortly after, we set off, me on scooty (mobility scooter) Heidi, Mark, (Heidi’s partner) and Bill on their bikes. Unfortunately Moira was unwell, but all her planning was being well implemented. Along with our balloons, Freedom From Torture signs and huge smiles, we left Craigleith with a cheerful wave goodbye from friends. We headed to Cramond Brig for a break and change of batteries. I had received a loan of an extra set of batteries especially for the Scootathon by All Mobility. This enabled me to go all the way to North Queensferry.
Now, we had our sights on Fife! Curious passers-by came up to ask what we were doing. We received great support on the way. The bridges were in sight now with the beautiful blue water beneath and blue sky above. My heart and mind began feeling so many things. This is it……. all the thorough planning…. all of the support I received….. I am doing this for human rights! Freedom From Torture helps support survivors of torture. They support people seeking to live in freedom away from persecution, away from torture of the mind and body. We forget how fortunate we are to live in a free society. I can scoot from Edinburgh to Fife without being asked for permits or IDs. As I was scooting across the Forth Road Bridge, the sense of freedom overwhelmed my heart. As I moved forward with my scooter, I thought so many human beings are not free to move forward, to feel this freedom, and I whole heartedly am doing this for them.
Reached Fife! (by Scootathon Team)
If you’d like to donate to Freedom from Torture Edinburgh you can still support Nada on her JustGiving page here.
Nada Shawa Equalities Ambassador