NZMCA members Gabrielle and Jim Bateman (#82521) are thrilled with their custom-built ACM motorhome which enables them to enjoy the freedom of the open road.

 

THE ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE

A custom-built ACM motorhome gives new meaning to the phrase ‘home away from home’.

NZMCA members Gabrielle and Jim Bateman (#82521) are thrilled with their custom-built ACM motorhome which enables them to enjoy the freedom of the open road.

When Gabrielle and Jim Bateman (#82521) started looking for a motorhome, they wanted one that would give them exactly the same independence on the road that they enjoy at home. Travelling has always been a big part of the couple’s life, and they wanted the freedom to be able to travel with and visit friends and family in a motorhome that would accommodate Gabrielle’s needs as a  wheelchair-user.

“I’m fully independent at home with everything I do, so it was really important our motorhome was suitable so I could be fully independent there,” says Gabrielle.

About seven years ago the couple started an extensive search in New Zealand, online, and overseas for something that might be suitable. They found next to nothing available. Even a trip to Birmingham (while they were in UK for the 2015 Rugby World Cup) to see a company specialising in accessible motorhomes proved to be fruitless. Gabrielle was teaching full-time then, so they decided to delay their search until she retired. With that milestone reached, they attended the Covi SuperShow and were told to chat with ACM, who are well-known for custom-built motorhomes. At ACM they found exactly what they were looking for, and a team more than happy to go the extra mile. “ACM was very easy to work with and open to any suggestions,” says Jim. “There was quite a bit of learning on both sides and they are certainly perfectionists in what they do.”

Over a period of nine months, the couple saw their dreams become reality as their motorhome was built to fit their exact needs. Once the design and specifications had been decided, the ACM team taped an outline of the layout on the factory floor so Gabrielle and Jim could double-check it was right.

“It helped us check the practicalities and make sure everything was suitable and there was enough space for turns in the wheelchair,” says Gabrielle. “We didn’t need to change anything.” Gabrielle says the bathroom was a particularly important area, as the traditionally small space in a motorhome needed to have enough space for her wheelchair.

“The team at ACM came into our home and looked at our bathroom and then used that to put everything in the same position, so the transfers I do in the motorhome are exactly the same as the ones I do at home.” The kitchen has a large pantry and fridgefreezer to allow for extended stays away from home, and has a slightly lower bench area than standard. “But not so low that Jim can’t use it too!” says Gabrielle.

After resuming their online searching, the couple found the bed in Italy. The mechanical sofa bed transforms the living area into a sleeping area at night with the touch of a button and includes a storage area for pillows and blankets.

A slide-out provides extra space, and a levelling system makes set-up stress-free. ACM installed an under body cassette lift and Gabrielle also has full access from the cab. The motorhome was completed just in time for Christmas last year, and while hosting responsibilities meant they didn’t get on the road straight away (although they’ve had some great trips since) it got more attention than any other gifts on the day.

“People certainly enjoyed looking through it after hearing us talk about it for so long,” says Gabrielle, who has enjoyed a great summer of trips away. “It’s everything we hoped for.” “And more,” says Jim. “It’s fantastic to know we can go anywhere and be confident the accommodation will be perfect for us.”

The Motor Caravanner