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Saturday, 02 August 2014

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Cumbria's highways chiefs pledge action after girl, 15, falls in front of car

Highways chiefs have vowed to act after calls for improved disabled access outside a school.

Samantha Wilson photo
Samantha Wilson

Julie Wilson said her 15-year-old daughter Samantha struggles to negotiate pavements without dropped kerbs in her wheelchair.

Samantha, who suffers from cerebral palsy, fell out of her chair in front of a car outside Beacon Hill School in Aspatria.

Julie said her daughter was lucky not to have been hurt but she was left embarrassed by the incident as many other students and parents were around.

Julie explained: “It was a nasty fall – Samantha was trying to avoid a drain when her wheels jammed.

“It was school closing time and she felt a bit daft about it, but fortunately someone stopped to help her back into her chair.”

Julie and Samantha are calling for the changes to the pavements outside the school in a bid to prevent it happening again.

Julie added: “As you come up to the school there are no dropped kerbs at all.

“It’s dangerous when Samantha comes out of school as she has to go past a lot of parked cars.”

Highways officials from Cumbria County Council carried had out an assessment which showed that five dropped kerbs were needed outside the school.

But Julie claimed nothing has been done to make the modifications.

Highways bosses at Cumbria County Council confirmed they have met Julie to discuss the concerns and have now promised to take action.

A spokesman said: “We recently met a member of the family to discuss concerns about this and we agreed suitable crossing points would be installed on the route to both the school and a nearby bus stop.

“We will be carrying out this work at these locations, together with other locations which have been identified, later this year.”

Samantha’s father Les said: “I think it’s brilliant that the council will be doing the work so quickly.

“I would like to say that the school have also done their utmost to help.”

Samantha, a talented swimmer and wheelchair basketball player, underwent major surgery in 2011.

She had to have her feet reconstructed, metal plates inserted into her legs, and her legs were lengthened.

The operation meant she is now only able to walk occasionally and it took her nearly two years to recover fully after she underwent intensive physiotherapy.

Despite this, the plucky teen, who trains with the Cockermouth Swimming Club, picked up two golds, a silver and two bronze medals at the Nottingham Cerebral Palsy Nationals swimming competition.

She is now training for the international championships in Glasgow during the Easter weekend.

Samantha also scooped a bronze medal in the wheelchair basketball junior finals in Sheffield earlier this month.

Julie added: “She has gone through a lot and there has been a lot of frustration. But we are immensely proud of her.

“She was always the sort of child who would swim before she could walk.”

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