Thursday, 03 September 2015

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Community unites to help Cumbrian woman speak

A community has united in its efforts to raise money to help a 24-year-old woman who has never spoken a word in her life.

Laura Oglanby photo
Laura Oglanby

Laura Oglanby, of Queen Street, Aspatria, has cerebral palsy and has been unable to speak since birth.

She has used a wheelchair since she was a year old and has almost no movement in her limbs.

Now people from across the area have come to her aid to buy a piece of equipment similar to the device which gives Professor Stephen Hawking his computerised voice.

Supporters aim to raise £12,000 to buy the Eye Gaze machine and allow Laura to use her eyes to produce sound.

A group of six climbers, including Innovia Films employees Greig Hill, Sam Ogle, Vicki Clarke and Matthew Watson, completed the daunting Three Peaks Challenge in 22 hours and seven minutes.

They, along with Matthew Scott and Greig’s dad Chris, climbed Ben Nevis, Mount Snowdon and Scafell Pike in less than a day to do their bit for the fundraising efforts.

Greig said: “It wasn’t a bad time really considering the traffic, and we kept each other going.

“The best bit was running down the side of Snowdon – it was brilliant.

“Everyone was clapping and cheering us on, and it was great getting down to the car park, clocking off your time and trying not to trip up at the end.”

The expedition began at Ben Nevis on Saturday night before finally making it to the top of Mount Snowdon at 2.40pm on Sunday.

The group have already raised about £1,500 but Greig hopes this figure will continue to rise.

“We’re just seeing what we can get really, and there’s still a few people to get back to us”, he said.

“Laura’s dad works with my dad and because of that we said ‘let’s see if we can do some sort of fundraising for her’.”

They aren’t the only ones taking on a challenge to raise money for Laura.

Aspatria resident Les McTear, 49, and eight cyclist friends set off from Whitehaven yesterday and expect to arrive in Sunderland tomorrow after a 140-mile coast-to-coast trek.

Les and his daughter’s boyfriend Chris Foster initially decided to do the ride along with a few of Chris’ friends.

The group heard about Laura’s story and decided that they would try to lend a helping hand to her efforts.

Les said: “My daughter’s boyfriend asked me if I fancied doing it. I’ve just been going out and about and getting a few miles in.

“They’re a great bunch of lads and it’ll be good fun – we are looking forward to it.”

And Aspatria mayor Alan Reay is doing his bit to boost the Eye Gaze appeal by nominating Let Laura Speak as his charity of the year.

The first of his fundraising events will be a senior citizens trip to Southport on August 12, which will be followed by a number of activities throughout the year.

He said: “She’s an Aspatria girl and I’d always wanted to use the fund for something like that.

“The young lady is disabled and has never spoken in 24 years, and I thought it was an excellent thing to do.”

For more information or to donate to the Let Laura Speak fund visit



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