Two boys with special needs are the delighted recipients of new trikes which will mean they can play outside and learn new skills – and improve their health at the same time.
James Sim from Lerwick and Zak Carr from Sandwick, are both pupils at Bell’s Brae in Lerwick – James, who is in the ASN department, is due to go to the high school soon.
Teacher Gwynneth Houston started raising funds for the specially adapted trikes a year ago and has been overwhelmed by the response from the Shetland community.
She originally hoped to raise enough to fund just one trike, for 13-year-old James, who has myotonic dystrophy. But when the final figure of £2,500 was raised there was enough to buy one for eight-year-old Zak as well.
Ms Houston said the amount, collected from bake sales, raffles and collection tins in shops,
was an “unbelievable community effort”.
And it has made a huge difference to the lives of the two boys, both of whom she described as “amazing”.
The trikes were built to order – they were ordered in January and arrived in March. Since then they have been in constant use, with James, who needs adult assistance, and Zak, who has balancing difficulties, practising first at school and later learning road safety at the new cycle paths at Clickimin.
Ms Houston said these paths had been a “blessing” and the boys had learned new skills in riding there – in fact Zak had been particularly daring. She added that the trikes had thrilled the boys and not only meant they could play but it would help their medical conditions as well.
She said: “The difference it has made to the boys… the delight on their faces. It builds their core strength and helps maintain and build muscle. A trike is hard work because there are no gears, you have to work really hard.”
Now Ms Houston said she wanted to thank all the community members, including businesses, who had contributed to the appeal. A bake sale at the Gilbert Bain Hospital was a great success, she said, and so was another one held by BP at Montfield.
Shops which had collecting tins included Bolt’s Minimarket at the Toll Clock Shopping Centre, Scalloway Meat Company, Blydoit Fish Ltd, Sound Service Station, McNab’s Kippers, N-Graved, Harbour Chip Shop and Mainland’s in Dunrossness.
Northern Focus parkour group had fund-raised through donations at classes, she said, and the Up-Helly-A’ squad, known as squad number 10 and led by Stewart Jamieson, contributed £250. Money also came in from the JustGiving page, and Ms Houston said she also wanted to thank Bell’s Brae ASN gym teacher Donna Murray who had done a lot to build up the boys’ core strength.
Ms Houston said: “The Shetland public have been absolutely amazing, the amount raised was unbelievable.”
Money also came from the Scottish government’s family fund, which is for specialised equipment for children with special needs. Ms Houston said the take-up of the fund in Shetland had been low, but it existed to provide exactly the sort of equipment which has benefited James and Zak.
Zak’s mother Marie Carr and her husband Brian said: “Thanks to everyone that raised money towards a bike for Zak, it means so much to us to see him outside on his bike joining in with his friends.
“Zak said that he ‘loved playing outside with his friends in Sandwick’.”
And James’ family said: “We would like to thank the hard working effort put in by Gwynneth Houston and Donna Murray, who sourced the bike and put the fund-raising campaign into action. Our thanks also go to everyone who donated money and helped with the fundraising activities. Without the support and generosity of all these people, getting the bike would not be possible.”