THE parents of the Eyemouth teenager severely brain-damaged after being swept into the sea four months ago have emphasised how grateful they are for the support they’ve had from friends and the local community.
Fourteen-year-old Katie-Lou MacLean suffered the injuries after being swept into the sea at Eyemouth harbour. Although her parents are still going through an incredibly tough time, her family have taken great encouragement from the support they’ve had from friends, the local community and people from much further afield.
On top of all the heartfelt posts about Katie-Lou on the internet, fundraising for her has topped the £14,000 mark, with more money coming in all the time.
She is receiving treatment in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital, meaning her mum and dad Nikki and Andy face a 110-mile round trip every day to see their only child. But Andy said the pain and heartache have been soothed immensely by people’s eagerness to do something for Katie-Lou.
A trust fund has now been set up in her name, and fundraising events have been happening thick and fast, with cash rolling in from the Great North Run, an Emergency Services day and Eyemouth Brownie & Guides, with the Emergency Services event alone raising £4,837. Berwick St James Nursing Home has raised £433, while Ramparts MoT Centre in Berwick is donating 10% of MoT takings to the fund.
“It’s been totally unexpected how so many people have been touched by what happened to Katie-Lou and her ongoing struggle to get back home from hospital,” Andy told us. “My wife and I haven’t been involved in organising any of the events, people have just got on and done it because they want to help.
“I was never a big fan of Facebook before but the page set up by friends for the Care For Katie-Lou Trust gives us a lot of strength as it’s constantly being updated with comments of support.
“Its been eye-opening to see how small town communities can come together and even more surprising how we are getting kind messages from people all over the UK and even the rest of world who we don’t know.
“People wanted to help from day one and many simply wanted to give us money which we were not comfortable with at all. The trust fund is there to try and help ensure everything that Katie-Lou needs she will have for the rest of her life.”
When she was first rushed to hospital, Katie-Lou spent a spell in intensive care. Thankfully, her stay there wasn’t too lengthy but Andy and Nikki have had to come to terms with the fact she’ll never be the same again, a heartbreaking realisation for any parent.
“Katie-Lou is alive, but we haven’t heard her voice or laughter for more than four months,” Andy said. “The house feels so empty and though we have to count our blessings she’s still here we’ll never have the old Katie-Lou back.
“Progress is more weekly than daily. It’s often hard for us to see small changes as we are there all the time. People who visit less regularly see more noticeable changes. It is definitely one step forward two steps back a lot of the time.”
Andy and Nikki’s good friend Lee Smith has set up a website, www.careforkatielou.co.uk, which the family use to keep well- wishers informed on how Katie-Lou is doing and highlight any fundraising events in the pipeline.
The money being raised will help fund the changes that will have to be made to the family home when Katie retruns.
“We think we’re looking at the new year for Katie to come home with hopefully a weekend visit or two before that,” Andy added. “It would be great if we can have her home for Christmas for a short stay.
“Our garage is being converted to a wetroom/shower room and storage for her wheelchair and physio equipment. Our front room is being converted to Katie-Lou’s bedroom and we hope to have sensory and stimulation equipment installed to help her rehab. We are also making the downstairs open-plan so it’s more wheelchair friendly. Maden Eco, a local builder’s company from Berwick, is donating time and resources to help with all the work.
“It is such a horrible thing that Katie-Lou and ourselves are going through but made so much more bearable by the kindness and generosity of support. It is also comforting to know that when Katie-Lou is able to return home there will be so many people willing to help her live as normal a life as is possible.”
To make a donation to the Care For Katie-Lou Trust or publicise a fundraising event for Katie-Lou visit www.careforkatielou.co.uk. Care For Katie-Lou wristbands are available in Occasions in Eyemouth.
If anyone would like to donate any time or materials to help Maden Eco or sponsor a tradesman for a day please contact Simon Maden on 01289 304840.