Powerchair football: a family thing

Ellie Renton (pictured here with her brother William) is a nine-year-old girl from Kirkby Malzeard who has SMA Type 2.

Her family, led by her scout leader dad, go on regular camping trips and they’re constantly searching for new adventures, like crossing Middlesbrough’s incredible transporter bridge, which they did this May.

But as mum Yvonne points out, none of these adventures could have happened without Ellie’s powered wheelchair that they’ve been able to buy with a grant from MDUK. Yvonne said:

“Ellie was diagnosed with SMA at about a year old. I knew something was wrong when we realised she could pull herself up to her knees but not to her feet.

“We had just been through those milestones with her brother William so I could compare. We went from a physio to a doctor and then a paediatrician, all involving several blood tests – and there was then a long wait before we finally got the test results, on 1 December 2011.”

Ellie’s condition means she’s in constant danger of chest infections. She also has scoliosis and wears magec rods to straighten her spine. When she reaches puberty at 12, her back will need to be completely fused.

Getting her first Powerchair in 2015 made a huge difference to Ellie and her family’s life. They were able to buy the wheelchair with grant funding from the Joseph Patrick Trust (JPT), MDUK’s grant-giving arm. Ellie said:

“The reason I enjoy Powerchair football is because I get the chance to do something that I know that I can do without thinking that I can’t. Also, there is the brilliant chance to make new friends, who are similar to me, with disabilities.”

Ellie and her family were given a second grant towards the cost of a Strike force Powerchair in 2018 and since then Ellie has been away on the Powerchair football circuit, and not looked back. The youngest player in MDUK’s 2019 national league, Ellie has found a fantastic outlet through this popular disability sport. Yvonne said:

“It’s a family thing. When we go to matches, her brother William helps in the café and manages the computer software. Sometimes he is even the drinks monitor.”

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