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Tractor Lifts: Empowering Lives and Restoring Dreams

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Part one

Jon’s Story

Helen and I were very privileged to meet a remarkable young man, Jon and his carer Jen, at the home of Andrew and Gill Stubbs, Astle farms, on the 27th June 2023.

4 years ago, aged just 24, Jon was embarking on a new career driving diggers in Australian mines, when his dreams were cruelly shattered after he suffered a serious accident on his motorbike whilst heading to his farewell party. This sadly left him a quadriplegic with a C6 complete injury. Paralysed from the chest down, Jon has limited core control, partial use of his right arm but full use of his left arm. Injuries at this level also bring additional health concerns. Jon suffers from autonomic dysreflexia, an over- reaction to autonomic nervous system stimulation raising susceptibility to increased heart rates and potential heart attacks. Jon and Jen are fortunately both able to recognize the signs now and take necessary action.

The accident left Jon very low to start with as he struggled to come to terms with his new normal. It was hard to accept help at first but now he realises that extra support helps conserve his own energy for the things he enjoys doing. He is also a strong advocate for good counselling at the right time to help reset the thinking process.

Whilst laid up Jon learnt about a former customer of Andrew’s with muscular dystrophy who had a specially adapted tractor allowing him to work again. Excited by the possibilities, he got in touch with Andrew about 6 weeks ago, bought his own John Deere tractor and had it delivered to Andrew to have it adapted. Together with colleague Scott and son Joe, Andrew talked with Jon to assess his needs and when we met all the modifications had been carried out. Andrew designs a lift attached to the side of the tractor which enables the driver to safely and independently access the cab and then the cab controls are modified depending on need and ability. Jon came to try out the new modifications and to see if there were any more adaptations necessary. No tractor leaves the farm until it is thoroughly checked.

We were deeply touched that Jon allowed us to share in such a life transforming moment. We found a warm, friendly, handsome young man full of positivity, eager to build his own business (already booming thanks to loyal farming friends). Once in the cab, Jon was transformed. His smile never faltered as he took control of his tractor and once he had sorted out a few technical issues, he was soon driving competently around the fields, allowing us to accompany him. The tractor also comes with safety brakes for added security.

In Jon’s words he doesn’t feel disabled in the cab. Whilst he acknowledges the need for support (he intends to employ a full- time driver) he is now in control of his life, his business and his future. Andrew and his team’s remarkable adaptations have not only restored Jon’s ability to work but have also reignited his entrepreneurial aspirations . His business is flourishing and now Jon seeks to give back by supporting Back up Trust and the Spinal Injuries Association, a charity close to his heart.

The transformative work undertaken by Andrew and the team not only places dreams back on track but also empowers individuals like Jon to rewrite their own narratives and embrace a future with limitless possibilities.

This is the team’s 13th tractor adaptation, but the lifts are reused when possible and Jon’s is now in its 3rd life. Access to work has enabled other farmers to get back into the cab and Jon is currently seeking similar support. Jon and Jen left, Jon driving his adapted car, looking forward to his tractor arriving in Devon soon. We truly wish you every success Jon. You deserve it with your amazing optimism and determination.

written by Sharon Mayer, contributions by Helen Rutter.


https://youtu.be/r3e61GiOL6E follow the link to see the lift in action.



In the evening with Andrew and Jon's permission we invited the NFU, Cheshire Young Farmers and local farmers to come and see the tractor lift in action, and ask questions about the build and the difficulties/ challenges Andrew and his team found when first conceiving the idea.




Part Two Andrew's Story

"From Youthful Madness to Life-Altering Change:

A Journey Through Resilience"

by Andrew Stubbs for Cheshire AgChap

 

I farm in partnership with my wife Gill, son Joe (my daughter Emma is a teacher) at Astle Farm East, Chelford. We grow arable crops, contract farm, and do some agricultural contracting.   

 

I started to work for my father and mother, when I was sixteen, I did an apprenticeship and went on from that to Reaseheath College. I really enjoyed this time; everything was happy go lucky. If I am honest, I did not really appreciate what I had in front of me “A farmers, son with a farm to go to, taken for granted, not a care in the world “.

Then in a moment everything changed, towards the end of my first term at Reaseheath a group of us were fooling around climbing a staircase I fell and landed on a sharp object. It caused major blood loss. The 4th of December 1984, 2pm, never a day goes by with me forgetting this date, my moment of thoughtlessness and the ripple effect of heartache it caused a lot of people. I did not stop to imagine the damage that could be caused in just five minutes of fooling around. I nearly died that day; I am incredibly lucky to still be alive due to very clever people that did a fantastic job getting me better and back to work. It did result in me losing my right foot caused by gangrene and infection.

The only thing in my mind then was how lucky I was to be alive, a second chance given to live my life to its fullest. I finished college on day release and went back working with father and mother, I met Gill, and we married two years later and had our wonderful children.

 

I always had a very keen interest in building and making things and we had a farm workshop, this has been invaluable to me, being able to adapt and mend my own machines. Repairing and making bespoke items became part of my farming life even welding my own leg back together (to the disgust of my doctor). We were also doing welding work and fixing of machines for other farmers today you would call that diversification. Over the years we have built up a very comprehensive workshop.

 

During a trip to look at a new tractor at John Bownes and Laura Heath.  I was introduced to Matt Evans who had, had an accident and was now in a wheelchair. I was asked if I could help him back into the tractor seat. I said, “leave it with me”. To my shock weeks later the tractor arrived on the yard, and I now had to sort it out! We did sort it; this was our first tractor chairlift, which was back in 2015. We now have twelve units across the UK. Matt now has this lift on his third tractor.

 


Matt Evans story on video


I wanted to tell my story to say thank you to all the people that have helped me over the years and to thank my customers. It has been quite a journey all caused by my moment of thoughtlessness! That journey at times has been tough, every day I must put my false leg on and get my head in order to deal with that day, I cannot forget.

I have been very lucky to meet so many great people along the way who have helped and supported me Doctors, friends, people like Sharon and Helen (you need the AgChap Sharon’s and Helen’s of this world as you cannot do it alone when friends and family are not there) and of course my amazing family.

 

Writing about myself and revisiting things I had closed off has been extremely hard, but to have been able to help others has been incredibly special and means a great deal to me. These inspirational people have offered as much to me as I have to them, it has been a privilege, and their friendships are a bonus.

To be able to encourage people to think about actions and consequences is also especially important to me.

 

Sadly in 1999 my father became ill with Alzheimer’s and died; my mum is still going strong at 82. Gill and I had to start our own business which is the one we run today. Joe is a partner with us, through all the tough times we still look forward to the future and the next generation (Although I am not done yet!)  we have a fantastic team here thanks also go to Matt and Scott for their help over the years.

 

Finally, all my customers are important to me disabled or not.

 

See the man behind Jon Poulter’s story on agchap.com Tractor lifts: Empowering Lives and Restoring Dreams, Andrew Stubbs a farmer, son, husband, father, and friend.

 


 


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