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Care pod push for Black Isle lad hits halfway mark; Support grows for 'Raise the Roof for Reece' bid; Heartfelt Peat & Diesel shout-out

By Hector MacKenzie

Donna Mitchell (centre) with Maureen Cooper and Paula Bremner, holding the hamper that has helped boost the fighting fund.
Donna Mitchell (centre) with Maureen Cooper and Paula Bremner, holding the hamper that has helped boost the fighting fund.

THE heartbreaking plight of a terminally ill Ross-shire lad has galvanised a huge community push to help his battling mum give him the best Christmas gift she possibly can.

Reece Mitchell (6) has in the last year gone from being a fun-loving little boy full of life to losing the ability to walk and talk after being diagnosed with a cruel form of childhood dementia.

The North Kessock boy is now blind, suffers from weekly seizures and is fed through a peg as the rapidly progressing form of Battens disease takes its toll.

His mum Donna, who now struggles to lift him up stairs to wash, is pulling out all the stops to fund a £60,000 purpose-built "care" pod which would be located in their garden to help ensure the time he has left is as comfortable as possible.

Poignantly, she wants the pod to be used by another child with complex needs when Reece no longer needs it.

The appeal this week hit the halfway mark – securing a welcome heartfelt shout-out along the way from a fast-rising band enjoying huge popularity in the Highlands.

The Raise the Roof for Reece drive has also been given a boost from another Black Isle mum, Paula Bremner of Avoch, who with friend Maureen Cooper from Killen, managed to raise the best part of £1000 within hours through a well-supported hamper raffle.

Mrs Bremner is now organising a Breakfast with Santa event to take place in North Kessock Hall for December 22, with a host of businesses and well-wishers already pledging support.

After visiting Ms Mitchell this week, she said: "I was contacted by Maureen and started selling squares for a boozy hamper prize. Less than three hours later, almost all of the £5 squares had been taken. We needed to add more. She said: "They are a lovely family. Nobody knows who will need support one day.

"Your heart goes out to them. It's all I can think about at the moment. I think we will do it but time is off the essence. Life is very difficult for Donna just now. Carrying your son up and down the stairs to get washed is not on. She's a full-time carer and the house has to be kept hot all the time for Reece and there are bills to be paid too. She gets a bit of help from people coming in to sit with Reece so she can take a bath.

"There are a lot of good people out there."

Her daughter Rebecca is also getting involved, offering up a voucher for the Heavenly Bliss salon and massage business she runs in Avoch for a raffle.

Mrs Bremner says tickets for the Breakfast with Santa event at Kessock Hall will go on sale shortly with aim of reaching the target before Christmas if at all possible. She added: "I've made contact with a lot of the bigger businesses. Hopefully there will be a real Santa out there."

Mrs Mitchell meanwhile was thrilled to see the Western Isles band Peat & Diesel, who will shortly embark on a nationwide tour which includes a sold-out date at the Ironworks in Inverness, backing the effort.

The band took to their Facebook page to say: "A lot of people message us asking us now to share a post to our page as they know it will be seen by a lot of people. If we did that for every single enquiry, it wouldn’t be fair on the people that follow us. Sometimes though, we find out about heartbreaking situations and it really touches us so we have decided to share this one. Reece is a six-year-old boy who is really going through a hard time. If you can spare another couple of minutes to read his story and maybe donate if you can spare anything we would really appreciate it."

To donate see https://www.cashforkidsgive.co.uk/campaign/raise-the-roof-for-reece-/

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