South East Galvanizers has been called upon to help create a specially made piece of equipment for a former Paralympic sailing gold medallist.
The Witham-based plant has provided its hot dip galvanizing service to steel used to build a custom-built rack and tow-bar that Kevin Curtis will use to transport his hand bike, a bicycle that is powered by the arms rather than the legs.
Keen sailor Kevin, from Kesgrave in Ipswich, broke his back aged 17 and became a full-time wheelchair user. In 1992 he won a Gold medal at the World Disabled Sailing Championship in Barcelona, an accomplishment he matched at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics. He is still a prominent figure in the sport today, combining his job at NHS Wheelchair Service with roles as Trustee of the East Anglian Sailing Trust (EAST) and Joint Patron of the charity Optua.
“I had looked at most standard bike racks to carry my hand bicycle, but sadly nothing was suitable,” Kevin explained. “After speaking to an engineer friend, Nigel Hart, he sketched a design, sourced the steel, and manufactured a rack and tow-bar adaption in one morning.”
Rather than having the customised rack painted to protect against rust and corrosion, Kevin chose to have his equipment hot dip galvanized, which saw the steel dipped into molten zinc at temperatures of up to 450°C to form a protective coating against corrosion.
Kevin commented: “This has allowed me not to worry about rust, it has strength and durability, and will last for years! I can now travel further with my new custom-built galvanized hand bike rack.”
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to galvanize Kevin’s new hand bicycle rack,” Neil Pearson, Commercial Manager of South East Galvanizers, said. “Through this project, we’ve found out a little bit more about Kevin’s accomplishments, and it’s fair to say he is a hugely inspirational person.”
Early in July, Kevin had the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch through his hometown of Ipswich as part of the official Olympic Torch Relay.