An Edinburgh mum is taking on a running challenge to raise funds to allow her disabled niece the chance to enjoy playing in the sea when she is on holiday.
Eight-year-old Lucy Abbeels has spina bifida and cannot walk unaided. She is wheelchair bound, meaning that everyday activities can be difficult for her and her family.
Lucy had always wanted to enjoy playing in the sand and the sea on family holidays but it wasn't until a recent trip to Portobello Beach that she finally got to paddle in the water thanks to specially made chair.
The ‘hippocampe' wheelchair is a chair that has inflatable wheels and is designed to allow children with disabilities to enjoy a whole range of outdoor activities.
The wheelchair had been gifted to Portobello by a neighbouring beach in North Berwick for the day and after Lucy experienced splashing in the water for the first time, her aunt Rebecca Smith decided to help her own one permanently.
Rebecca, 33, aims to raise £3,600 to pay for a hippocampe chair that Lucy will be able to own permanently so she can enjoy her holidays to the beach for years to come.
Rebecca will take on the Great Edinburgh Winter Run on Saturday 7 January for her first-ever running challenge to try to raise the funds to buy Lucy the chair.
The mum-of-two said: “We always struggled to get Lucy on the beach whenever we went there because the wheelchair she uses is not suitable for the sand and we always ended up staying on the promenade.
“One day we heard on social media that Portobello Beach had gotten hold of some of the beach buggies that can allow children with disabilities to go into the sea.
“We went down to the beach with Lucy and she had the time of her life, she absolutely loved it. It was actually the first time she had ever gone into the sea.
“Lucy was lifting her arms and legs up in the water, which is usually something she can never do herself.
“It made us realise that something should be done to make sure she always has it available to her, every young person should be able to swim in the sea and enjoy themselves.
“I had a little bit of a health kick this year and I have walked other events before, but decided to set myself a challenge and complete a run in the new year.
“I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try and raise the money that Lucy needs for the chair.”
Lucy's mum Jeannette, who is Rebecca's sister, found out that her daughter had the birth defect spina bifida when she was just a few hours old.
Lucy then underwent surgery the day after she was born to repair the hole in her back and her spinal cord.
The condition means that she cannot stand or walk and relies on the use of her wheelchair. Rebecca says that the new hippocampe chair, which has buoyancy inflatable wheels and would be specially adapted to Lucy's body, would no longer restrict the places that she would be able to go.
She added: “I decided to sign up to the Great Edinburgh Winter Run and raise money for something that was really close to my heart.
“We take such little things for granted but every child should have the ability to go wherever they want, and Lucy cannot experience some things without the help of expensive equipment.
“By purchasing the Hippocampe, Lucy will be able to do something she loves. It is compact and can go on multiple terrains so we could take it on holidays with us and give her the opportunities that every child should experience.”
The Great Edinburgh Winter Run is the perfect way to kick start 2017 when 3,000 runners will take Holyrood Park in the city for a picturesque tour around Arthur's Seat.
The scenic 5km course travels up Queen's Drive and passes Dunsapie Loch before returning back towards the park.
The weekend of sport also features the Junior Great Edinburgh Winter Run, where youngsters between 7 and 14 years old have the chance to take on a shorter running route around Holyrood Park, and finishes off with the Great Edinburgh X Country where athletes compete in teams across four separate events.
To support Rebecca's fundraising to buy Lucy a trike, click here.
To enter the Great Edinburgh Winter Run, visit: Greatrun.org/Winter