This year, Naidex proudly played host to a range of sporting representatives from across the spectrum of disability sport. International athletes from GB Wheelchair Basketball, Boccia and Powerchair Football engaged visitors in Q&A sessions, introducing many to the sports on offer. David Gardener, a Wheelchair Tennis player and Paralympian from Athens 2004 spoke to visitors about his role as a member of the British Paralympic Association as well as his formidable sporting career. With the 2016 Paralympic games now fewer than a hundred days away, there’s a strong buzz in the para-sporting world and Naidex was glad to share in the excitement of the coming games in Rio.
As well as the impressive list of well-known faces, Naidex exhibited the latest sporting equipment and technology. Roma Sport, the best British manufacturer of rugby chairs, displayed their latest designs, alongside big names in para-sport such as Wheelpower, CP Sport and representatives from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Marketing and communications manager of EFDS, Courtney Perks, confirmed that Naidex was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about the rising participation in disability sport and to reach out to those who have not yet found their niche. EDFS supports a large number of disability sport associations, including LimbPower, British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK and UK Deaf Sport.
Other exciting new technology on show included the Genny, winner of the Best in Show Award, which is designed not only to provide extra day-to-day comfort to the chair user, but also to allow a revolutionary level of access. Off-road tyres, self-balancing technology and weather-proof controls give to user more freedom, opening inaccessible grounds such as beaches, woodland or rocky terrain. The Genny also promoted the advantages of its steering-handle over traditional pushing. Gloves and jumpers, normally made damp or muddy, stay clean and dry, and the user is able do ‘the little things’ that a walker may take for granted – holding a dog’s lead, holding a drink, holding a partner’s hand.
All three days were packed with exciting new innovations and the enthusiasm was evident, in both the visitors and the exhibitors! Inspiring Q&A sessions, engaging seminars and dynamic displays once again captured the public’s imagination and helped Naidex maintain its atmospheric ‘People’s Choice’ ratings in the independent living and assistive technology sector.
Over the course of the exhibition, the selection of speakers ranged from the sporting stars previously mentioned, company directors, leading healthcare professionals and decorated keynote addressors. Martyn Sibley, CEO of Disability Horizons expressed perfectly the sentiment of the event – “Everything is possible … when you believe”. Naidex has released the dates for next year’s show, and this will take place, again at the NEC in Birmingham, on 28-30th March 2017. With the mass of positive reviews and the exciting promise brought to the stage this year, it is certain that next year’s exhibition will be just as innovative, moving and educational, if not more so! Be sure to pencil these dates in the diary and see what you could discover at Naidex 2017.