Scottish Rugby gamers assist lady climb Arthur’s Seat in her wheelchair | EUROtoday

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When Oona Dooks leaves her home for varsity every day, she sees dot-sized hikers rounding their manner up the hills of Arthur’s Seat, the historic peak looming over Edinburgh, Scotland, to catch the famed views of the town from its 800-foot-high summit. For years, Oona had needed to hitch them.

Eleanor Dooks thought the dream was out of attain for her 10-year-old daughter, who was born with contractures affecting her legs and hips and makes use of a wheelchair. But Oona, a sparky, aggressive para swimmer, continued to ask. Last spring, Dooks posted a request in an Edinburgh Facebook group asking if anybody can be prepared to assist her daughter make the climb.

“I hadn’t really thought it through,” Dooks informed The Washington Post. “I didn’t really know how they were going to do it, but I just kind of said, ‘She’d really like to get to the top.’”

It would take teamwork, dedication and a little bit of muscle to assist Oona attain the summit. Fittingly, Edinburgh’s rugby golf equipment volunteered. Last Sunday, after months of planning and climate delays, members of the Edinburgh Eagles, a neighborhood rugby league membership, and the Edinburgh Giants, a wheelchair rugby league membership, teamed as much as deliver an ecstatic Oona, steering a specialty off-road wheelchair, to the highest of Arthur’s Seat.


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“It was an important thing for her to do,” Dooks mentioned. “I’m just pleased that we managed to be able to help her do that.”

The climb as much as Arthur’s Seat is a well-liked, roughly two-mile path that almost all hikers full in about an hour. Oona’s dad and mom had by no means accomplished it themselves — they have been decided to attend till they may achieve this with Oona, collectively as a household.

The aim felt more and more unattainable. Dooks had tried to deliver Oona up the hill when she was 3 years previous, however her incapacity made it painful for her to take a seat in a child provider, Dooks mentioned. The remaining stretch of the climb to Arthur’s Seat turns into too rocky and steep to simply push a wheelchair.

Oona’s major faculty has a problem of fifty issues college students ought to do earlier than they depart and enter center faculty, Dooks mentioned. Climbing Arthur’s Seat is considered one of them.

“Oona has kind of grown up with that right on her horizon, all the time,” Dooks mentioned.

Dooks’s Facebook request rapidly reached members of the Eagles and Giants. Martyn Gill, the Giants’ chairman, mentioned he was compelled to assist. Gill had fashioned the Giants simply weeks earlier than seeing Dooks’s publish and was within the midst of making ready for the crew’s first match. But he couldn’t overlook the request.

“I just think that’s what we stand for as a club,” Gill mentioned. “We’re trying to provide opportunities for people to fulfill their potential and break down some of the stigmas that may exist around disability and disability sports.”

Gill invited Oona and her household to a wheelchair rugby sport the place they may meet the membership. Oona offered the sport ball and cheered the Giants on to victory on the crew’s first match in May 2023.

“She really loved it,” Dooks recalled. “She goes to mainstream school so she doesn’t get to meet a lot of other people who have visible disabilities and who use wheelchairs. I think it gives her a real boost.”

A Scotland-based firm offered a particular all-terrain wheelchair that would deal with the climb up Arthur’s Seat for Oona, and the crew was set. They initially deliberate to make the climb earlier than the top of 2023, however delayed it after a spell of unhealthy climate.

Despite the setbacks, Oona’s enthusiasm by no means waned. When she lastly set off on the climb on the morning of May 19, “she talked all the way, nonstop,” Dooks mentioned.

A crew of Giants and Eagles gamers flanked Oona’s wheelchair. At the entrance of the procession, two gamers pulled Oona’s wheelchair together with ropes and harnesses, whereas two others pushed from behind. Oona’s dad and mom and their cocker spaniel adopted alongside.

The climb grew steeper and turned from a paved path right into a grassy path studded with slippery rocks. Gill and his teammates stored pushing.

“We’re rugby people,” Gill mentioned. “[We thought] ‘Okay, when the going gets tough, we need to dig in a little bit and we need to show a little bit of resilience, just like when people are playing.’”

A crowd of vacationers and hikers on the summit cheered and clapped as Oona and her crew crested the hilltop. Mikey Mair, the Eagles’ captain, hoisted a beaming Oona onto a stone that marked the tallest level of Arthur’s Seat and the group took a triumphant photograph.

“She was the tallest person in Edinburgh for those minutes,” Gill mentioned.

Oona and the crew returned from the summit, finishing the climb up and down Arthur’s Seat in about three hours, and shared celebratory ice lotions. Oona has had a lot to ponder within the weeks since, Dooks mentioned. She can now inform her classmates that she has crossed Arthur’s Seat off her checklist. And she could be eyeing a brand new problem in her newfound rugby fandom. As they made the climb, Oona requested the Giants gamers if she may be a part of their crew, Dooks mentioned.

“I’ve learned not to rule anything out with her,” she added.