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Seven-year-old Poppy Ferguson from Newtonards in County Down is walking tall at school despite being born with spina bifida. She is able to enjoy school life at the same height as her able bodied friends, thanks to provision of a specialist ‘stand up’ walker by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

Now Poppy’s family are backing grandmother Lorraine McMahon who is spearheading an awareness and fundraising campaign for Newlife – so more families across Northern Ireland can get the vital equipment support they need.

Poppy, who lives with her parents and two sisters, also has hydrocephalus, epilepsy and has to cope with a tracheostomy tube to assist her breathing. Despite all this, Poppy has been busy discovering the world around her – thanks to her specialist equipment.

Mum Martina Ferguson said: “Poppy is doing really well with the walker – she takes in into school with her every day now because the school is having problems accessing equipment. She really loves it – it’s like using a wheelchair, but standing up!”

Because Poppy already had a wheelchair supplied by the local authority she was not eligible for a walker, which cost £1,763 – so the family turned to Newlife Foundation for help. Newlife CEO Sheila Brown said: “It’s a small price to pay to give a little girl some freedom to explore her world.”

Martina said: “A standing frame is not only essential for Poppy’s independence and confidence it also has many medical benefits that could help prevent surgery to her legs in the future. This is something we’d all like to avoid given what she’s been through already.”

Now Martina has added her voice to Lorraine McMahon’s – to help more families of disabled and terminally ill children can get the support they so desperately need.

Lorraine, from Newry, has launched an awareness and fundraising campaign – Lorcan’s Legacy – in memory of her young grandson who passed away earlier this year, aged 22 months. Lorcan was born with hydrocephalus – a build-up of fluid on the brain – and brain cysts, which caused him to have frequent seizures. Without any appropriate equipment provision from statutory services, Lorraine and her family were forced to nurse Lorcan on the family sofa. In desperation, she turned to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help – and the charity delivered a specialist bed to the family home in Newry three days later. This meant fewer readmissions to hospital for Lorcan – and the family could make the most of his last few precious months. Newlife needs £100,000 a year so it can continue to help families in Northern Ireland – and Lorraine is urging people to fundraise or donate. For further information, go to: or call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640.  All the money received for Lorcan’s Legacy will be used to provide specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in Northern Ireland.

Pictured: Poppy Ferguson