Paraplegic man does chores for his community



April 11, 2016
Paraplegic man does chores for his community

Ashley Willis, 43, might have no legs, but he doesn't shy away from helping others.

Paraplegic former security guard spends his days helping his community with anything from grocery shopping to washing floors.

He may literally be lying around the whole day, but Ashley Willis is definitely not a willie werkie.

The legless man is a familiar sight in his neighbourhood as he escorts kids to school, washes cars and even does grocery shopping for mense in his community.

The Mitchells Plain paraplegic, who uses a specially designed motorised wheelbed that allows him to lie down on his maag, says smiling: “I don’t mind helping people, I am literally just lying around doing nothing.”

Nineteen years ago, on 11 July 1997, the former security guard’s life changed dramatically when he was shot five times in broad daylight.

Ashley, 43, of Beacon Valley was hospitalised for six months.

But his wounds became infected and both his legs had to be amputated.

Ashley has a condition where the pressure points on his backside are hypersensitive, making sitting painful.

This is why four years ago he was given a “wheelbed”, the first of its kind, to help with his condition.

The Daily Voice spotted Ashley rolling along AZ Berman Drive in Beacon Valley, with a shopping trolley in tow.

He skilfully manoeuvres the wheelbed and the trolley down the bumpy street and opens a big gate to get inside his friend’s yard.

“I shop for whoever asks me. Pensioners, my friends and family, anyone who asks me, I don’t charge them anything,” he says.

“If I have enough battery power, I will drive my bed to Promenade if the Town Centre doesn’t have what they are looking for.

“Here’s no pity party, I’m happy and especially if I can help others.”

Ashley lives with his mother and has a 19-year-old child, adding: “I am young free and single.”

He clearly remembers the day he stared death in the face.

“It was at 1.15pm and I was a security at Cornflour Primary School,” he says.

“People often used the school [grounds] as a shortcut then.”

He says a man came through and when he confronted him, the man ran away.

“I ran after him, I was shot in the chest, side and arm.”

Ashley lost his first leg in 2000, and the other years later.

But he is just happy to be alive, and loves his wheelbed.

“I call her Betty, she was the first of her kind in South Africa,” he adds.

“When people stare at me in the road, I reply: “Het jy nie gesien ene ry nie?”

“Nowadays I have to charge my battery at least four times a day, because I need a new one. Just watch this space, I am going to pimp it up.”

He also helps out his friend of 12 years, Cheryl Davids, 36, a local hairdresser, washing her floors and fetching her kids from school.

“He is amazing, he doesn’t let anything get him down and he is an inspiration to others,” she says.

“He doesn’t want payment, sometimes he will say: ‘I took a R1 of the change’, and he loves coffee, that’s his payment.”

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