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McLaren still in the driving seat

3 July 2017

The printed issue of HAD's Helping Hand magazine is available in a week or so but you can read the online version now. The summer edition includes the following story on customers Ian and Melody McLaren...

It's a story straight out of Hollywood, but how Los Angeles-born Melody McLaren met husband Ian is fact not fiction. And when Parkinson's disease threatened to stop Ian, 73, from driving, HAD also played a starring role.

With her first name it was no surprise that Melody is a keen musician, studying classical piano from a young age. But when she rebelled as a teenager her new-found passion was the hula-hoop, a 1960's phenomenon that led to success and, eventually, romance. 

Melody's dedication saw her become world champion in 1969 and 14 years' later, in 1983, she visited Europe on a promotional tour organised by manufacturer Bendy Toys.

This led to her meeting Ian, a former advertising executive for top London agency Saatchi and Saatchi now running his own advertising firm. One of Ian's accounts was Bendy Toys and the couple married in 1988. They now live in Potters Bar, although they lived in California from 1996 to 2000.

"Ironically we both shared a love of music and with Ian playing double bass in a jazz band we visited many London jazz clubs and had a great time," Melody said. "In fact it has led to me taking up another hobby - jazz photography."

When Parkinson's disease entered Ian's life he underwent surgery at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London. The operation, in 2009, involved fitting a neuro stimulator, similar to a cardiac pacemaker, in his chest with cables running behind his left ear and connected to both sides of his brain. 

The operation was a success but with resulting swelling of the brain causing cognitive problems, Ian was told that his passion for driving would be over. Ian wanted a second opinion and was told "there was no second opinion." However, Ian's neurologist Patricia Limousin discovered HAD and an assessment was booked with driving assessor Sean Lawrence which Ian passed and he was able to resume driving.

Ian's friend and fellow Parkinson's patient, Muswell Hill-based Reg Boorer, whom he met in the next bed in hospital, also took the driving test at HAD. The two are now known to friends and family as "The Battery Brothers."

Ian has had to retake the test every three years and was unfortunately recently told by HAD driving assessor Mark Thackeray that he "needed to retire."

However, like all good Hollywood films, the story has a happy ending. Ian bought some new wheels from HAD this April - a top of the range Activ X2 self-propelled wheelchair. "Ian's even considering having some go-faster racing stripes added," Melody added. 

"Both of us have been really impressed by the friendly, professional and compassionate manner of all HAD's staff," Melody explained.

You can download the magazine in full here.

BATTERY BROTHERS: Ian McLaren with pal Reg Boorer