Lincoln
July 28, 2021 1.25 pm

Dream come true as hero strongman raises cash for Lincoln teen’s special wheelchair

Ellie’s mother said it “means the world to me”

The mother of a Lincoln teenager living with a rare medical condition saw her dream come true after a fundraising event raised enough money for a special wheelchair to improve her daughter’s quality of life.

Eloise Needham, known by many as Ellie, is 17 and has epilepsy caused by a rare disorder called Cortical Dysplasia. It occurs before birth, when developing brain cells or neurones fail to reach the correct parts of the brain. And at just six months old, Ellie had to have the right-side of her brain removed to stop her seizures being more serious.

Ellie currently uses an NHS wheelchair at home and for when she attends St Francis Special School in Lincoln, but it isn’t robust enough. Her mother Caroline Needham set up a fundraising page to get her a better wheelchair – the Trikentic GTE Mark II. More than £6,000 has been raised, including around £4,500 from Caroline’s fundraising page.

Katie Stainton, Craig Collins, his stepdaughter Lacey with Caroline Needham and her daughter Eloise. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

After hearing about her story in The Lincolnite, Craig Collins decided to take part in a strongman challenge set up by Dave Johnson, who has been raising money for a decade after his friend lost his battle with cancer in 2012.

Incredibly, Craig was in a coma after a bad car crash nearly six years ago, but was determined to push himself to the limit with the strongman challenge, which took place at Flying Hire Ltd in North Scarle on the rescheduled date of July 24. More than 25 people took on the challenge, which included 15, 27 and 44 tonne truck pulls for the men and 27 tonne truck pulls for the women taking part.

More than 25 people took part in the charity strongman challenge. | Photo: Brett Wright

Craig taking part in the truck pull strongman challenge. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Eloise watching on. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Craig raised over £1,500, and when added to Caroline’s total, it meant that there was enough funds to order the special wheelchair, and tray to go with it, for Ellie.

The wheelchair will be delivered around September 13. In the meantime, Caroline plans to get a ramp to make it easier for Ellie to access the garden, while any left over funds will be used for them to do something nice together or towards any services or upgrades needed for the wheelchair in the future.

Craig Collins and Caroline Needham at the fundraising event. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Craig and Katie’s children – Junior, Ebony, Maddison, Gracie and Lacey – held up homemade posters for the event, while Craig’s mum Jan wore a special t-shirt on the day. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Caroline told The Lincolnite: “It was a fabulous day with money raised for different charities and causes. Craig raised £1,510 for Ellie and it means the world to me.

“Craig is a true hero for Ellie. They are such a lovely family with the kindest hearts and we are so grateful to have met them and will be keeping in touch.”

Craig Collins raised over £1,500 towards a special wheelchair for Eloise Needham. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Craig said: “It went well it felt great to be back competing, but it took it out of me. It was very tough, but I got through it and would love to compete in other events.

“The motivation of doing it for Eloise kept me going. She is a great little girl and full of character.

“We met up a couple of times (with Caroline and Eloise) before the event, and had a day out at the seaside and a meal with them. It was brilliant to see them at the event and we will be keeping in touch.

“I can’t wait for her wheelchair to be there so we can see where the money has gone and take her onto the beach.”

Craig was delighted to be back competing again. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

A crowd gathered to watch the event. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lindsay Nearn took part in the ladies truck pull. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Lincoln strongman Dave Johnson competing at the event. | Photo: Brett Wright

The event was organised by Dave Johnson who has completed more than 20 charity challenges since the first one in 2011.

There was also an entry fee and raffles at the event, with Dave raising £950 for Lincolnshire charity Bearded Fishermen and Macmillan.

Dave said: “The day was great. It was the biggest event to date and I’m pleased it was as good, Mark would have loved it. I gave him my word that I’d do this yearly and respect and loyalty don’t die. We now move on to year 11.”

See the rest of our gallery below:

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

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