SUPPORTERS of a charity in the Capital are celebrating after raising £500,000 to boost the mobility of disabled people in the developing world.
Olivia Giles, founder of 500 miles, which funds the supply of artificial limbs, splints and braces, said hitting the milestone felt “fantastic”.
And she revealed the cash would aid the establishment of a new prosthetic [artificial limbs] and orthotic [splint and brace] centre in Lusaka, Zambia, to complement the organisation’s current work in Malawi.
Success comes just three months after hundreds of supporters across Scotland, Europe and the rest of the world hosted charity meals as part of a fundraising drive called the BIG dinner.
Ms Giles, herself a quadruple amputee, said: “I hope that this will be the catalyst to allow us to create a 500 miles prosthetic and orthotic centre in Lusaka, Zambia which will compliment our two existing centres in Malawi.
“The money raised will also help with the ongoing work we’re doing in both countries, where every day of the week we are subsidising the supply of prosthetic and orthotic devices for people who would not otherwise be able to afford what they need in order to be mobile and enjoy full-body function.”
Founded in 2007, 500 miles works in Malawi and Zambia, and also runs a smaller operation in Zanzibar.
Ms Giles said the £500,000 target was originally set as a “bit of a fantasy”.
“We thought that it was unlikely that we would hit that sum,” she said.
“So it was fantastic when we realised that we had actually reached the target – I think it took everybody a bit by surprise.
“Literally thousands of people took part in the BIG dinner and I reckon that there were around 900 dinners in total worldwide.
“Most of them were in Scotland but dinners also took place as far away as Hong Kong, the US, New Zealand, Italy, France, Spain and Dubai.”
Among those who helped raise the cash was Gullane grandmother Cath Thomson, 68, a double amputee who lost both her legs below the knee after developing blood poisoning.
Ms Thomson – who hosted a dinner in Gullane Village Hall for 120 guests – said she felt “glad, honoured and proud” after being told the £500,000 target had been reached.
“It was a lot of hard work but it was worth it when I heard that Olivia had got her target,” she said.
“From the actual dinner we raised £4750. I just knew Olivia would [hit the target]. She’s inspirational in everything she does.”