VIDEO: £12,500 chair allows Sylvain to get working

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A hairdresser left paralysed after contracting multiple sclerosis (MS) can now ply his trade again after receiving a specially-adapted wheelchair.

Sylvain Berard, 46, who runs Hippo Hair on Cedar Square, in Blackpool town centre, was left distraught after the disease left him unable to carry out his craft two years ago.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

But now he is back putting his scissors to good work after years of being unable to cut.

The new £12,500 wheelchair, which allows Mr Berard to stand up, has been paid for after he applied for a grant from the Government’s Access To Work grant.

The grant helps to fund practical support for people suffering with illness, disability or mental health conditions so they can get back to work.

Mr Berard, who is still getting used to his new chair, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out I’d got the chair. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to do or how to use it, there was a bit of mayhem.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

“Now I’m used to it and the customers are all saying they’ve never seen anything like it. Before I saw it I’d never seen anything like it myself either.”

Mr Berard was first diagnosed with MS back in 2008.

The disease, which affects around 100,000 people in the UK, affects the nervous system and left him wheelchair-bound 18 months after being first diagnosed.

He said: “When I was diagnosed all I knew was I was going to end up in a wheelchair which was a scary thought.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

Silvain Berard using his new wheelchair at Hippo Hair, Cedar Square, Blackpool.

“I’ve been able to run the salon but for the past two years I’ve not been able to cut.

“Now I can go back to doing what I love.”

Minister for Disabled People Esther McVey said: “Disability and injury should be no barrier to a budding entrepreneur or to someone who wants to get back into work.

“Disabled people should be able to have the same choice of jobs as everyone else, in every sector - and this scheme can help do just that by paying for specially adapted equipment or support workers.

“Last year the programme helped more than 31,000 disabled people get or keep work, and we’ve recently made changes so small businesses get even more support.”

Anyone interested in applying for the fund can search ‘Access to Work’ at www.gov.uk/access-to-work/ to find out details of contact centres.

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