A 16-year-old Para Showjumper from Skegness has lept into the national spotlight by winning the national 2018 WellChild Award and meeting the Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Evie Toombes, whose motto is ‘Find a way, not an excuse’, collected her prize yesterday at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
Nominated by her mum, Caroline, Evie – who has Spina Bifida (Lipomyelomeningocele) and more recently developed Gastroparesis (paralysed stomach) – was picked from hundreds of nominations from across the UK to win the category of Inspirational Young Person.
Born with Spina Bifida requiring spinal surgery, which has left her with ongoing weakness and severe bladder and bowel problems, Evie has had to deal with multiple difficult medical procedures and learned to cope each day with socially isolating symptoms.
She has faced everything head on and is always working to find new ways to help other people, including mentoring other children with health problems, contributing her perspective to trainee nurses and doctors, speaking to local school children about hidden disability, and writing a children’s book on the subject.
At the same time, Evie continues with her passion for horse riding, taking part in competitions up and down the country, even when feeling ill.
Evie was on the ITV lunchtime news and clearly overwhelmed presenter Alastair Stewart with her achievement.
On receiving the award, she told him: “It was incredible. The atmosphere was fantastic and all the winners were made to feel really special.
“It was wonderful the young Royals got involved and fantastic we got to meet them. They had so much time for all of us.
“I gave the Duchess one of my children’s books and she had a good flick through and took it away with her - which is always a good sign.”
On Evie’s ambitions as a member of Para Showjumping Team GB, facing high jumps in spite of her disability, she was asked in the ITV interview if she was “bonkers”.
Evie, who has been voted a Skegness Standard Champion, replied, “Maybe”, praising her horse who she said was her legs when she cannot feel them.
Her mum, Caroline, told the Standard earlier: “We are so proud of everything Evie has achieved.
“We really hope that winning this WellChild Award will help fuel her campaign to educate more young children not to discriminate against people with hidden disability .”