Marines family appeal - sensory room

Good on Olivia's uncle for raising £8K. Not sure if it is the done thing but I would like to send a small donation if possible.

Mother praises strangers who've helped poorly child

THINGS are looking up for little Olivia Harnwell after the seven-month-old tot was given an early first birthday present from her kind-hearted uncle.

For Olivia, who has cerebral palsy, is to get her very own sensory room thanks to a charity event organised by her uncle, Bobby Macfarlane.

The Rosyth baby requires round-the-clock care from her family and is fed small amounts of food through a tube in her nose.

To help her develop, parents Tom (27) and Michelle (35), of Ferry Toll Place, wanted to build a sensory room in their house.

But, with pieces of equipment costing thousands of pounds, it didn’t look likely.

That’s when her uncle Bobby (33) decided enough was enough and set about raising the cash needed.

He organised a race night on 26th April and, at the last count, more than £8000 was raised to build Olivia’s sensory room and help with other care costs.

“It was very emotional,” said Michelle, who only found out about her brother Bobby’s efforts a couple of weeks before the event took place.

“I think he organised it because he found it so difficult to see Olivia having to live like this. He is very close to her.”

She said it was overwhelming to think that so many people, some of them strangers, had gone to the race night to donate money for Olivia.

“It’s so humbling to see people queuing up to give money and knowing it’s for your daughter,” she said.

Bobby, who lives in East Kilbride, added, “I don’t see Olivia as much as I would like to and this is something I felt I had to do to help out.”

Tom and Michelle have found it especially hard to cope with Olivia’s needs as the rest of their family lives in East Kilbride.

They moved to West Fife shortly before she was born when Tom, who is an acting corporal in the marines, was posted through here.

“One of the hardest things was explaining to the rest of the family what had happened to Olivia,” recalled Michelle. “And now we’re on our own here with her needing 24-hour care.”

Michelle does get help from Olivia’s big brother and sister, Ben (2) and Kerry (17).

But the family feels that a sensory room could be her best chance of developing.

“There is a special chair that we can sit her in and it gives her different kinds of support, she loves it,” said Michelle.

“We want to buy one for her to use in the house and now, after what Bobby has done, we don’t need to worry about finances.”

The chair costs £350 but, according to Michelle, that is just the thin end of the wedge.

“We would like to get a bubble lamp and fibre optics so she can see and touch different colours,” she said.

“There’s also a rug that she can lay on and it would light up. We’re talking about £2500 for all that, plus £165 delivery.”

Thanks to the race night, though, Michelle and Tom are now choosing the equipment and Olivia should have her sensory room within weeks.

“Seeing people putting their hands in their pockets for your daughter – it’s just phenomenal,” concluded Michelle.

Latest Threads