1986. Niall El-Assaad
Niall El-Assaad, from Wigan, is a wheelchair user who created a free app, ‘fuelService’, to help disabled drivers gain assistance at petrol stations and easily refuel their cars.
Niall was paralysed in a cycling accident and was able to learn to drive again with hand controls, but realised that refilling a car was challenging, with many petrol stations offering little accessibility. With a background in technology product management, he developed an app which Shell agreed to test on their North West service stations. Now over 30% of all UK petrol stations are using the service, which enables users to ask in advance to check that someone will be able refuel for them. All profits from the app are further channeled by Niall towards Spinal research charities that are looking into a cure for paralysis.
In a personal letter to Niall, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“I was inspired to learn how you have used your technological expertise and your experience as a disabled driver to create the fuelService app.
“Thanks to you, there is now an easy way to identify which forecourts have people available to help you refuel, and to let service station staff know when you arrive.
“It’s brilliant that over 30 per cent of all the UK’s petrol stations are now part of your scheme. I hope your app or similar technologies can be extended even further across the whole nation.
“It is also fantastic that all profits from your app are being channelled towards spinal research charities, helping find a cure for paralysis.”
“The award is most unexpected, but really appreciated. Being disabled and not being able to get my car filled up pushed me to start fuelService. However the real reward is knowing that there are so many people who it is helping just like me. My thanks goes to all of the fuel companies who wanted to help disabled people, and are delivering fuelService today.”