On 18 May, Cristian Brownlee, was awarded a Stelios Disabled Entrepreneur Award at an awards ceremony in central London.
The Stelios Disabled Entrepeneur award, was presented to Cristian Brownlee by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and the Leanord Cheshire charity, at a ceremony in Thurloe Square, South Kensington on on 18 May. The award was made to recognise the success of Adapt Ablity the business Cristian founded to bring the game changing Omeo wheelchair to the UK and Ireland. Cristian won first place and a prize of £50,000 which will be used to drive the business forward.
Cristian was the first person in the UK to try the innovative Omeo mobility device and was so impressed by this game changing hands-free wheelchair that he created a business with his partner, Tina Walczyk. Business partner, Matthew Walker later joined the ranks and has been integral in the business going from strength to stength.
Cristian Brownlee, Director of Adapt Ability Master said, “Our business goal from the start was, and continues to be, to enable people with mobility impairments to access a device that offers unparalleled freedom and independence.
“When I started Adapt Ability, I wanted to build a company operated by disabled people, for disabled people, that provided access to the most technologically advanced mobility solutions available. Our first product, the Omeo, has radically changed so many of our customers lives for the better and that’s just the start of our journey. Winning this award will help us scale the business faster, helping even more disabled people realise their mobility dreams.
“Our appearance on BBC’s Dragon’s Den earlier this year has made our business stronger and we are thrilled to be able to give back to our community with a competition launching at the Motability Show on 19 May to give one person the opportunity to win an Omeo. Nominations are now open and one entrant will be chosen by a panel of judges to win a fully refurbished Omeo power chair in bright orange livery.”
About the Stelios Disabled Entrepreneurs UK Awards
Leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, creator and owner of the easy family of brands including easyJet and founder and president of the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation are behind The Stelios Awards for Disabled Entrepreneurs in the UK.
About Adapt Ability
Adapt Ability build and distribute the game changing Omeo wheelchair which allows the user to travel over uneven terrain, scale inclines and navigate troughs and bumps in the ground. The company is operated by disabled people working to provide mobility solutions for disabled people. Company Directors Matt Walker and Cristian Brownlee appeared on the BBC One TV show Dragons’ Den on 9 February 2023 and were successful in their pitch for investment.
About Matt Walker
Matt has a T10 spinal cord injury and is paralysed from the waist down.
“The Omeo has probably saved me from myself to be honest. Before my injury, I was a Greenkeeper and tree surgeon. I loved the outdoors. I loved walking, running and climbing.
When I realised, I was paralysed and would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life it was devastating. Mentally I struggled with the idea of being ‘trapped’ in my chair. I struggled with the idea that I wouldn’t be able to access the places I loved. I struggled with being ‘seen’ in my chair.
Then I found the Omeo. I could see it was different, strong, cool, fast, all terrain, all the things I needed. From the moment I was lucky enough to take delivery of my Omeo, things changed for me. I felt pretty proud to be leaving the house on such a cool looking machine. People no longer asked me about what had happened to me and instead wanted to talk to me about my ‘cool chair!’ There are very few places I can’t go on my Omeo. It is genuinely the closest thing I have to total independence. It has helped me both mentally and physically in the face of my paralysis and I feel proud to be on it.”
About Cristian Brownlee
Cristian sustained a spinal cord injury at T4 level in 2011, rendering him completely paralysed from the chest down.
“I did not understand just how debilitating depression could be until I came to the realisation that I will never walk again. After my spinal cord injury, I spent my life holed up inside the safety of my home. I did not want to speak to anyone, I did not want to be seen by anyone. My comfort in life was my dog and the vast number of animal videos available on YouTube.
When my Omeo arrived I transferred onto it, attached a lead on my dog, and left the house to visit the local woodlands. I was so intoxicated with my new sense of independence that I don’t remember much else that day other than the tears of happiness rolling down my face, the ecstatic and confused look on my dog for actually being outside with me, and the constant comments of awe from passers-by expressing just how cool I look.
Since then, the Omeo has completely improved both the quality of my life and my outlook towards life. I simply cannot find a reason to stay at home. There is nothing for me there anymore. Disability? What disability? If you need me, you’ll find me in the local woods, zipping around with my dog and my son taking pictures of the foxes!”