A showjumping teenager from Skegness with a hidden disability has been inspiring others with her courage, determination and positivity.
Evie Toombes, 16, was born with spina bifida which affects her lower legs, bladder and bowel. She also has a condition called gastroparesis which results with her having to be tube fed as her stomach muscles don’t work properly.
The Skegness Grammar School pupil has recently given talks at two Lincolnshire schools and has also been featured in an English Federation of Disability Sport film. In the short video Evie speaks about her condition, overcoming obstacles and how horseriding helps her focus on the positives in life.
“All of a sudden, you’re not a patient or an illness, you’re just on the horse and you can do what you want and that’s one thing you have control over,” she said.
Evie recently shared her positive attitude with other young school pupils with the aim of educating them about hidden disabilities.
At Tetford Primary School she told her own story of a puppy with a weak leg and bladder problems becoming isolated because he couldn’t play. She also visited QEGS in Horncastle, speaking to older children - and has been invited to speak at Richmond Primary School in Skegness.
Evie’s mum Caroline Toombes added: “She’s only just turned 16 but she’s already becoming a strong ambassador for those with a hidden disability. I’m beyond proud.”
Earlier this year, Evie won the Hannah Francis Award for talent courage and inspiration at a Pony Club Championships - and is now setting her sights on showjumping in the paralympics with her horse Daisy.
She said: “My hopes are set very high but I’m confident I’m on the path to success with my current ride ‘Daisy’. Since being classified as I para athlete four years ago, I’ve had the Paralympics in my hopes ever since. Now with a strong partnership with Daisy, as we begin to build up a consistent record of results, it’s the closest I have ever been to my dreams.
“Visiting primary and secondary schools is something I absolutely love doing and I’m keen to continue to do that as it grows into something even bigger for me. I’ve also began working with Nottingham University of health sciences to help educate student nurses. This is another passion of mine and I really feel I can make a difference by doing this as well as making the most of my health situation and using it to benefit their learning.”
She added: “My health has deteriorated further this year but I’m determined to continue following my dreams and making them a reality.”
Two local businesses - BB Insure Skegness and Sarah Devlin at Devlin Decorators and Forever Aloe - have recently offered support to helping Evie to pursue her showjumping and keep her on the road.
Her mum Caroline commented: “We’re extremely grateful and their contribution will go towards two monthly payments on a suitable horse box with living to care for Evie whilst competing/training.”