Little Jack Farmer is looking forward to Sunday when he’ll be taking to two wheels and pedalling for Scotland in the annual cycling event aimed at getting people on their bikes.
The nine-year-old from Edinburgh will be joining parents Richard and Leeanne on the Pedal for Scotland’s Wee Jaunt Edinburgh, cycling from Linlithgow to the Capital.
In 2016, Jack was diagnosed with Perthes disease, a rare childhood condition which affects the hip. The active youngster, who lived with his family in Hong Kong at the time, loved playing rugby and cycling but developed a persistent limp. Doctors told his parents that they could let the disease take its course, which meant at least two years in a wheelchair, or have surgery.
Leeanne said: “We were completely flummoxed and devastated after the diagnosis. It meant a whole lifestyle change but we wanted to try and turn it into a positive.”
Leeanne and Richard set up charity Pedal Through Perthes in 2016 to raise money and awareness of the condition, buying their son a custom-designed handcycle from Germany which meant the family could continue cycling.
Jack used crutches and a wheelchair to get around after having a metal plate and six screws implanted to keep his bone protected. He spent 14 months in a wheelchair but eight months after his surgery he was out on the handcycle. Now Jack has completely recovered and has upgraded to a two wheeled bike. Leeanne said: “His recovery is 100 per cent down to him being active in a safe way.”
Jack enjoyed swimming four times a week while he was recovering to keep his muscles working. Leeanne said: “It was all consuming and our whole lives revolved around the Perthes disease but we were determined to have a positive outcome.”
The family moved back to Leeanne’s home town of Edinburgh in June after taking six months out to travel and volunteer in Columbia, Peru, Mongolia and the Galapagos Islands. At the end of their adventure they enjoyed a 12-day cycle along the Danube in Austria – with Jack cycling the 320km on his handcycle.
Back in Edinburgh and at Jack’s final check-up with his doctor he was given the all clear and told the Perthes had been cured. Leeanne said: “We are proud of him. He’s been in better spirits than my husband and I throughout the whole journey and he’s so excited to be back on two wheels.”
Jack, who attends George Watson’s College Junior School, has been enjoying cricket, hockey and rugby since he has been back on his feet and is a member of the Edinburgh RC Cycling Club where he particularly enjoys racing down hills.
He said: “I can’t wait to cycle the Wee Jaunt, it will be my first race on a real bike since coming out of my wheelchair, I’m really excited.”