Season ticket holder Symon Vegro had a new outlook on Welford Road after taking up a challenge from friend Steve Plimley to experience Leicester Tigers matchday in a wheelchair.
Steve suffered severe spinal injuries in a road traffic accident 10 years ago and was in London’s Stoke Mandeville Hospital at the same time as Matt Hampson. He has been in a wheelchair since.
To mark his 10-year journey, Steve challenged Symon, a season-ticket holder in the MET-Rx Stand, to spend a Welford Road matchday in a wheelchair to experience the obstacles encountered by wheelchair users attending sporting events.
Steve and Symon joined Tigers for the opening game of the European Rugby Champions Cup season against Ulster Rugby, and recorded and documented their visit.
Steve, from Berkshire, said: “I’ve challenged some friends to spend time in a wheelchair to raise money and awareness for charities that have helped me.
“Symon talks about Tigers 24/7, so I said to him to go to a game in a wheelchair from start to finish.”
Their visit began with parking at the King Power Stadium, using the shuttle bus service to transfer to Welford Road before negotiating the crowds on a big European occasion to reach the ticket office and then make their way to their places on the viewing platform at the Clubhouse End of the stadium.
There they joined James Price, the captain of the Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Team, and were introduced to the Welford Road crowd at half-time of the European tie.
Symon, from Hertfordshire, said: “I found it difficult to be in the wheelchair, going down kerbs, trying to get around obstacles and around the crowds but I was so proud of the Tigers and the supporters. I was delighted with how nice and helpful everyone was.
“Parking at the King Power was easy. I was nervous about using the shuttle bus because I didn’t know what to expect but it was great to have that service.
“People moved out of the way, the ticket office staff and the stewards were really helpful and the platform was great. The view was good, there was plenty of space and a toilet just behind in the Clubhouse.”
Tigers will use their feedback to help improve Welford Road facilities for disabled supporters, and Steve and Symon hope that the day will help build awareness for spinal charities such as the BackUp Trust, the Spinal Injuries Association and the Matt Hampson Foundation.
Steve added: “I go to a lot of sporting events and I found it a very positive experience. A lot of places don’t have parking facilities, the Tigers staff were very well informed, which is a massive help and the viewing facilities were great.
“But the big thing for me was the fact the club actually cared what we thought. That was a big thing. When you do care, it improves your chances of getting it right.”
Article originally appeared on the Leicester Tigers Club website.