The founder of an Alfreton-based company that helps disabled drivers has been presented with his OBE.
David Walker, of Autochair, was recently presented with the OBE for services to people with disabilities at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty the Queen after he was included in the honours’ list.
Mr Walker, who lives in Bakewell, originally developed an Autochair system to load his own wheelchair into his vehicle after he was paralysed after a car accident in 1975. He went on to further develop and successfully market the award-winning company’s innovation internationally.
He said: “It is wonderful after all these years to be recognised in this way and it is testimony to all the hard work of all the staff at Autochair to have received this.”
David was accompanied by wife Carol and his sons Matthew, Nicholas and Jonathan.
For over 30 years, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the disabled.
Following the car accident in 1975, he was left paralysed from the waist down. David initially became reliant upon family and friends to help him load and unload his wheelchair from his vehicle.
However, with a determined will to remain independent, he set about finding a way in which he could load and unload his own wheelchair into his vehicle and went on to develop the Autochair.
And once he realised he had a product that would benefit all wheelchair users he established his own company Autochair.
David said, “Since starting Autochair I realised there were a range of problems for disabled and less mobile people to maintain their mobility. My vehicle is my life line and so it was for many of the people I met. This resulted in designing other products to help achieve both independent and general mobility.”
Over 30 years after David launched his own company, Autochair now boasts over 40,000 satisfied customers and the company continues to go from strength-to-strength.
David’s oldest son Matthew Walker is now Managing Director, striving to take the business forward with the opening of a brand new manufacturing and warehouse facility in 2013 and the announcement of a new distribution contract with Pride Mobility Inc. of Pennsylvania, USA.
The contract is to export British designed and engineered vehicle adaptations and distribute them throughout the USA and Canada through Pride’s regional distribution network of mobility dealers.
Product development and innovation have always been key for this international adaptations company.
Autochair has been supporting the motor trade and dealerships successfully for many years and working with a network of specialist installers by imparting their knowledge and expertise to raise standards across the whole industry. This approach to product development and innovation, combined with excellent customer service, also resulted in the company receiving the 2012’s Motability’s Adaptation Supplier of the Year Award.