Dromore dad launches fundraising campaign for daughter (12)

Rachel Cunningham with author and TV star David Walliams at Claridge's in London.
Rachel Cunningham with author and TV star David Walliams at Claridge's in London.

A Dromore man has started a fundraising campaign to help pay for rehabilitation treatment for his young daughter, who suffered a brain haemorrhage earlier this year.

Shane Rainey is hoping to raise £5,000 towards the cost of specialist equipment and therapies in order to give his daughter, Rachel Cunningham, the best possible chance of “leading a normal life again”.

Shane Rainey with his daughter, Rachel Cunningham.

Shane Rainey with his daughter, Rachel Cunningham.

Rachel, a former pupil of Dromore Central Primary School, moved to London with her mum, Deborah three years ago. She was a normal, happy, healthy 12-year-old girl when she suddenly took ill and collapsed while at school on February 10.

She was rushed to A&E in Lewisham where doctors discovered that she’d had a brain haemorrhage. From there she was transferred to King’s College Hospital where surgeons treated her for a clot on her brain.

Rachel was in a coma for 23 days, and when she woke up she couldn’t walk, talk or eat, and for several weeks could only communicate through squeezing her right hand for ‘yes’ and wiggling her left foot for ‘no’.

She was transferred to The Children’s Trust in Tadworth in July for a period of intensive rehabilitation, and over the past few months she has made real progress. However, she still needs a wheelchair to get around and has significant problems with her balance, coordination and speech.

Shane, who has been over in England with his daughter since she suffered her brain haemorrhage, says Rachel is showing great courage and determination and is fighting hard to get her life back to normal.

“She has a lot of fight in her and she’s recovering quicker than what the prognosis was, but the bad side of her being so feisty is that sometimes she tries to do too much and she could push herself too far and could end up having a fall or something,” he said.

With Rachel due to be discharged by The Children’s Trust on October 21, Shane has launched an online fundraising campaign in a bid to meet the cost of specialist equipment and treatment for his daughter when she returns home.

“Rachel requires intense physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and occupational therapy daily,” he explained. “Her funding is going to come to an end in late October, so the GoFundMe page has been set up so we can explore additional private therapies and specialist treatment to maximise her potential of a full recovery.”

Rachel recently enjoyed a break from the intensive rehabilitation sessions when she was invited to a private tea party at one of London’s most prestigious venues, Claridge’s.

Children’s Trust patron, author and TV star David Walliams, treated Rachel and six other children with a brain injury to a magical afternoon tea and readings from his latest book.

“He sat with the children and talked to them for an hour, read to them for a bit and gave them signed copies of his book. He was really spot on and the kids really enjoyed it,” Shane said.

Rachel was also recently interviewed for a feature on BBC Children in Need, which is due to air in November.

Shane is grateful to the “amazing” staff at King’s College Hospital and The Children’s Trust for the help and support they’ve given Rachel. And he’s also extremely grateful to the charities and businesses that have supported him personally, allowing him to stay in England with his daughter while she undergoes treatment.

Appealing for people to support his fundraising campaign, he added: “Rachel’s pretty well known around Dromore. A lot of people know her story and have been asking what way they could help.

“There wasn’t really any way people could help at that stage, but now she’s medically better it’s all about the rehabilitation and getting her walking and dealing with the psychological problems.

“Her goal is to be walking and leading a normal life again.”

Anyone who would like to make a donation towards Rachel’s treatment can do so online at www.gofundme.com/helprachelwalk