School pals prepare for the big bang

Maya McRobbie and Isabel Wallis. Picture: Greg Macvean
Maya McRobbie and Isabel Wallis. Picture: Greg Macvean
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TWO youngsters battling cerebral palsy have been offered the chance to light up the sky – by setting off one of Edinburgh’s biggest fireworks
displays.

Four-year-olds Maya McRobbie and Isabel Wallis are looking forward to an explosive fireworks night when they will set the annual Meadowbank fireworks display in motion.

The Disney-themed event – which has this year had its firework display extended to 25 minutes – will be watched by thousands.

Maya, who lives in Whitecraig with parents Barry, 39, mum Carol, 40, and siblings Becca, 17, Becky, 15, Ellie, 13 and Callum, one, suffers from diplegic cerebral palsy, in which the hamstrings, calves and adductors are tight. The condition means Maya walks on her toes.

Her family is about halfway to raising the £60,000 for a state-of-the-art operation in the United States and aftercare which, they hope, will see her walk unaided.

The procedure – selective dorsal rhizotomy – removes the high muscle tone and has been available in the US for more than 20 years.

Although the operation is available in Bristol, Maya would have faced a year-long wait, in which time her condition could worsen.

Carol said: “She is using a Kaye walker, she can take a couple of steps unaided, but then she will take a look to the side and have to stop.

“Maya is a determined
little lady and she’ll work really hard.”

Carol said Maya was “very excited” having been invited to set off the fireworks display, which came as a surprise to the family, adding: “It will raise awareness as much as anything else.”

Isabel, who, suffers from the same condition, lives in Musselburgh with parents Kate Horne and Rory Wallis, both 33.

She was sent for the operation last month after Ayrshire Euromillions lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir stepped in to fund the procedure.

Three weeks later, Isabel underwent surgery in St Louis, Missouri, and there has been an improvement in her mobility.

Kate said: “It’s gone amazingly. Before, when she tried to take a few steps her legs kept crossing. Now she just needs to build her strength up – it’s going to make a htuge difference to her life.”

Kate said the fireworks show would be an ideal opportunity for the two friends, both pre-school pupils at Musselburgh’s Campie Primary, to spend time together after a hectic period of fundraising and procedures.

Also on the bill this year are stilt walkers, a radio show led by DJ Big Al and for, the first time, there will be a Guy on the pitch throughout the event.

Edinburgh Leisure director of operations Graeme Gardener said: “We are delighted to invite Maya and Isabel to set off the fireworks display this year at Meadowbank and wish them the very best with their fundraising appeal.”