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Teenager Orla O’Brien has a complex condition which affects her mobility – but not her bold spirit. Now, with the support of fabulous local fundraisers, Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children is helping Orla get the lightweight all-terrain wheelchair she needs so she can get out and about with her family.

The charity had an initial £1,835 available towards the total wheelchair cost of £5,505; Orla’s family and friends rallied to fund a further £1,872 and an appeal in The Hemel Hempstead Gazette helped secure the remaining funds.

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 seizures.

Mum Nyree O’Brien says: “A lot of people saw the story – and they will be delighted to know Orla’s wheelchair has now been fully funded. It is important that those people who supported the appeal know they have absolutely made a difference to Orla’s life. We really appreciate everyone’s generosity.”

She added: “We live in an area surrounded by hilly woodlands but the standard wheelchair she has now just doesn’t do off-road at all. Orla 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 her get around. This lightweight carbon-fibre manual wheelchair which can cope with a rough track and a bit of mud will 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.”

With no local statutory funding available, the family turned to Newlife – the largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK – for help. With the support of fabulous local fundraisers the equipment is now on order.

For more details about how Newlife supports families in the county, go to To date, 177 children have been helped, with equipment totalling £240,630. The website includes information about how you can help a local child. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Pictured: Orla O’Brien