A teenager from Skegness who faces a daily challenge from the effects of spina bifida is finding the strength to follow her dream and one day be a showjumper in the Paralympic Games.
Evie Toombes suffers a form of spina bifida that has left her with a bladder and bowel that don’t work. She requires catheterisation every three hours and a saline drip every evening that goes through her stomach.
She is constantly at risk of infection and recently spent three days in a wheelchair when her legs seized up because of the cold and it was too painful to walk.
However, throughout it all there has been one activity which motivates the 14-year-old Skegness Grammar School student to struggle on – her passion for horses and riding. And, not only that, she is so good at it her talents have been spotted by former international showjumping star Dame Emma Jane Brown, who wants to take her and a group of other para showjumpers to the very top.
They recently met up at a training clinic at Arena UK in Grantham, where Evie was placed second in a competition run alongside able bodied riders.
Preparing for a showjumping event is stressful enough for any rider, but for Evie every day is a challenge.
Evie, of St Andrew’s Drive, said: “I have to have three hours treatment each night after school and fit in homework. It can leave me very overwhelmed.
“When I compete, whatever else is happening, I focus on riding and that helps. I feel I now have a future.”
Last year she won at three national competitions – the RDA National Championships at Hartpury College, the Scope-Para Competition in Staffordshire and the British Showjumping Para Championships in Stoneleigh.
Hopes of riding in the 2020 Paralympic Games have been made even more possible with Emma’s involvement mentoring para riders and helping with the organisation involved in making Arena UK their national training ground.
Mum Caroline said: “We’ve never been so pleased to live in Lincolnshire.
“Showjumping is stressful, even without Evie’s condition, but Arena UK is somewhere where everything is thought of and you can relax.”
Emma said: “I had to end my career because I developed an allergy to horses. But showjumping was good to me and getting involved with the para riders is my way of giving something back.
“My allergy is nothing when I see what families go through.
“When I met Evie I was blown away by how determined she is. She is brave and determined and I am sure she has a great future.”