Roller-skating to help Bognor Regis dad of two move his arm again

When Roller-skater Matthew ‘Mash’ Ashton-Rickhardt lost the use of his right arm in a motorcycle accident 14 years ago, he thought he’d never use it again.

But now, Matthew and his friends are raising money to buy a robotic arm brace which, by connecting to electric signals from his brain, might partially restore the paralysed limb.

The crack squad call themselves’ ‘Mash’s Army’ and they need to raise £41,000 to buy the brace, which is called Myopro and isn’t available on the NHS.

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They had originally planned to raise the money a few years ago, but found the pandemic made it hard to get their campaign off the ground. Now, with the world opening back up, they’re hoping to chip away at that multi-thousand pound figure, penny by penny.

To find out more about Matt, visit the Mash's Army fundraising page

"We started the fundraising page, but then obviously we all went into lockdown,” said Cheryl Perryman, a Mash Army member who raised more than £410 at the Bognor 10km on Sunday.

"We were going to do all these different things for the fundraiser, but then couldn’t. So that’s why I thought let’s start it all back up again, and I decided to run the Bognor 10km.”

Not everyone would run 10km for their friend, but Mrs Perryman said Matthew is more than worth the hard work.

“He’s such an amazing person. He doesn’t let the injury stop him doing anything, he’ll always get in there and try.”

In fact, that’s exactly what he’s doing. This September, Matthew and five of his friends will be heading to Germany for the BMW Inline Skating Marathon. They’ll be skating 26 miles through the city in a bid to have fun and raise money for the ‘life-changing’ robotic arm.

Living with the injury for 14 years means Matthew has adjusted to his limitations – he’s still an avid rollerblader, and plays drums for local band Petrol Money with an adjusted drum set –even so, buying the robotic arm would make a big difference to his quality of life.

"It would be life-changing. Until I heard about Myopro, it was either live with what I’ve got or have the whole arm amputated. Because, day to day, it gets in the way. It can be very painful, but now it’s like there’s a small light at the end of the tunnel.”

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