SSAFA helped Sonia, wife of ex-Marine, to get a new wheelchair

New wheelchair changes the life of ex-Marine's wife

9 April 2015

New wheelchair changes the life of ex-Marine's wife

The wife of a former Royal Marine who lives with severely restricted mobility has regained her independance thanks to SSAFA and a life-changing wheelchair.


85 year old Sonia now owns a state-of-the-art Etac electric wheelchair thanks to donations from several charities. The fundraising was tirelessly co-ordinated by Stephen Coleman, Sonia’s Caseworker from SSAFA. SSAFA donated substantially to Sonia’s cause alongside the Royal Marine Association, Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, Royal British Legion and a local charity ‘Wheel’s for Martin’s Friends’. Sonia’s new powerchair allows her to drive around independently, adjust her seat electrically and achieve a standing position.

Sonia's husband, ex-Royal Marine Anthony Baker, 86, was responsible for Commando training during the Second World War. Both originally from London, the Bakers have lived in the Cambridgeshire area for over 50 years and Sonia was a successful bank secretary before retiring. Unfortunately in recent times Sonia has experienced increasing difficulties with her health and mobility due to several conditions. She has been unable to sit in a standard postural position due to severe pain from degraded hips and could only achieve relief by standing up for extended periods of time. This unsustainable situation was affecting Sonia both day and night which led to her husband seeking help – regarding appropriate equipment and the possibility of charitable funds as his wife qualified for assistance. As an ex-serviceman, Anthony contacted the Royal Marine Association, which began the path towards Sonia’s ownership of a £20,000 Balder electric wheelchair.

Sonia comments: “I am so grateful to all concerned who have helped me own this life-changing wheelchair. All the charities involved have been so generous and I would particularly like to thank my SSAFA Caseworker, Stephen Coleman, for his sterling efforts in co-ordinating the fundraising. Before I owned this marvellous machine, I regularly had to stand for up to 10 hours to eat and sleep as sitting upright is so painful – I felt like a lamp post! Now with my Balder, I can sit in a reclining position that gives me such relief. My Occupational Therapist recommended a wheelchair made by Etac – I have been so impressed. As my mobility is quite limited, it has been so difficult for us, especially as my husband recently broke his arm. Now we can enjoy going outside once more and I can even travel in our converted car without awkward transfers into a standard car seat. It’s difficult to express the difference this Balder has made, especially now I can stand up in a controlled and pain-free manner – it has changed both our lives.”

Stephen Coleman, SSAFA Divisional Caseworker concluded: “On behalf of SSAFA, I would like to express our pride in being able to provide Mr and Mrs Baker with such a life-changing mobility product. They are a delightful couple and fully deserve the benefits this Balder electric wheelchair will provide. The Etac team has worked efficiently with us throughout the assessment and provision process, ensuring Sonia’s chair incorporates all the bespoke adaptation required to maximise quality of life. Sonia’s case is a prime example of SSAFA’s on-going commitment to providing practical support and assistance to servicemen and women, veterans, and their families.”