A teenager forgot her pain and danced in her wheelchair on the happiest night of her life.
More than 400 people gave their time, their money and their friendship to lift the spirits of 17-year-old Kirsten Edwards to stage a rock night which has probably raised more than £2,500.
The money raised by Ron Adams, Kirsty Tapley and Audra West, who are colleagues of Kirsten’s mother, Julie Longmuir, at the Pendine Park organisation in Wrexham.
The proceeds will be split between purchasing a made-to-measure lightweight wheelchair for Kirsten and a tea dance and entertainment afternoon which staff want to organise this spring for dementia sufferers.
Kirsten, 17, of Llanerfyl, near Welshpool, has Wegener’s Granulomatosis, a rare form of vasculitis, which attacks her own organs.
She has spent the last five years in pain and has only 50% kidney function, holes in her lungs, She is also deaf because the disease has destroyed the bones in her ears and attacked the bones in her nose. Swollen joints make it painful to walk.
Her single mum Julie, 48, a lead trainer and NVQ assessor at the Smartcare Teaching Care Centre, which is part of the Pendine Park organisation, says the wheelchair will give Kirsten independence since she often needs her mum to push her basic wheelchair.
Ron Adams, who works as a support worker at Pendine Park’s Independent Living Organisation, was moved when he heard of Kirsten’s problem and decided to organise a rock night fund raiser.
As a member of the AC/DC cover band The Swillers he enlisted the support of other local bands Marblehead Johnson, Blind Justice, Thunder Pig and Revolver, to give their time free for a gig at Brymbo Cricket Club.
Julie said: “It was absolutely wonderful I have never seen Kirsten so happy. It was the happiest she has been since before this disease struck.
“I didn’t know beforehand whether she would be OK or how she would react, but she was just so happy. It was brilliant, she was dancing in her wheelchair.
“It was a lovely evening, a really, really good night, I can’t begin to thank those who gave us such support.
“Kirsten was not really well a day or so before, she was quite ill and could not walk even from the bedroom to the kitchen and I thought ‘Oh no she’s not going to manage it’.
“I was also worried about her hearing aid with the noise from the bands but she told me not to worry because the hearing aid has a protect button and when the bands go louder it doesn’t mean it gets louder in her ear.
“Everyone was so friendly towards her. Ron’s daughter Georgina who sings in one of the bands (Revolver) was dancing with Kirsten in her wheelchair and they swapped telephone numbers, it really lifted her spirits and really made a difference.
“For everyone to give their time like that for nothing, I don’t know where to start thanking everyone, they just worked so hard.
“Ron was amazing, he’s got just such the biggest heart. And he wore his kilt (Julie and Kirsten are Scottish), with a leather waistcoat and boots – I couldn’t believe it!
“I don’t know how but I just want to thank people from the bottom of my heart.”
Assistant manager at Pendine Park’s Independent Living Organisation, Kirsty Tapley, along with manager Audra West, organised much of the event and secured a mass of raffle gifts.
“It was the happiest Kirsten has been for a long time,” said Kirsty. “It’s too early to say exactly how much was raised but we think it could be in the region of £2,500 which will be split between Kirsten and the rest will be for a tea dance we want to organise in the spring for local people who have been diagnosed with dementia.
“The publicity has also brought other things to light. We had a lady from Mold contact us and she suffers with the same rare disease so Julie is going to contact her to see if that might be of some support for Kirsten.
Also a couple from Welshpool contacted us and they want to do some fund-raising. It was an absolutely brilliant night.”
And the star of the show “rocking” Ron said: “It was a superb show and everything went fantastically well. My daughter had a dance with Kirsten, I think everyone had a dance with Kirsten! I said I would wear a kilt for the photos and I did.”