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Teenager Orla O’Brien has a complex condition which affects her mobility – but not her bold spirit. She needs a lightweight all-terrain wheelchair so she can get out and about in the hilly woodland areas close to her Hertfordshire home.

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children is looking for ‘local heroes’ who can help us make this happen. We already have £2,335 – including £500 from the O’Brien family – towards this vital piece of equipment, which costs £5,505. But we still require £3,170.

We need donors and fundraisers who want to really make a difference, helping us transform Orla’s everyday life. To find out how you can support her, go to and click on the Donate button next to her story. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Fifteen-year-old Orla, from Berkhamsted, has low muscle tone and epilepsy, which means she easily tires and although she can mobilise around the home, she can’t walk far when she is out. She also needs somewhere to recover following a seizure.

Mum Nyree O’Brien says: “We live in an area surrounded by hilly woodlands but all the wheelchair-friendly paths are only about half a mile long and the standard wheelchair she has now just doesn’t do off-road at all! Orla would rather be out and about for hours at a time with her sisters so we end up having to walk and re-walk the same route.

“Orla is a bit of a thrill-seeker – she loves sit skiing for example – and she absolutely wants to be out in the open air, joining in with everything. We don’t need a powered wheelchair – we’re a family of five, plus the dog, and we all want to help get her around. A lightweight carbon-fibre manual wheelchair that can cope with a rough track and a bit of mud would be perfect.

“The Paralympic message ‘Yes I can’ really struck a chord with us and we want Orla to be able to say ‘yes, I can’ too.”

She added: “Our family and friends have been very supportive and we have already raised £500 towards the wheelchair but we are so pleased that Newlife is now working to help us too.”

The largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK, Newlife has already supported 163 under-19s in Hertfordshire with equipment totalling £217,999. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Hertfordshire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county. Any money raised surplus to requirements for Orla will be used to help other local children.

Pictured: Orla O’Brien