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Black Isle mum's family struggles and trailblazing daughter inspire new book

By Hector MacKenzie

Eilidh with support worker Keri, author Maggie Wynton, Eilidh's older sister Linsey and Luca, one of her twin sons.
Eilidh with support worker Keri, author Maggie Wynton, Eilidh's older sister Linsey and Luca, one of her twin sons.

A BLACK Isle woman’s experiences struggling to raise a disabled daughterand finding out more about the mother she lost at the age of two haveinspired a book launched this weekend.

In Roots, Routes and Wings, Maggie Wynton recounts her fight to ensureher trailblazing daughter Eilidh, born at just 28 weeks and sufferingbrain damage, could live independently as an adult – and the intensechallenges encountered along the way.

Maggie (70), who lives in Fortrose, recounts the years shuttling betweenhospital appointments, operations and physiotherapy sessions afterEilidh was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a one-year-old in 1980.

She tells how her daughter became a minor celebrity six years later asone of the first children from Scotland to visit the Peto Institute inBudapest to benefit from an intensive form of physiotherapy calledConductive Education.

At this point Maggie started writing about her experiences. She said:“During Eilidh’s early years I was fuelled by a desire to commit topaper the plethora of experiences we shared as a family coming to termswith a disabled child.”

Maggie, who has been married to her husband Ron for 48 years, added:“Over the years I had also tried to find out more about my mum, whom Ilost as a young child, and in piecing together this information I cameto write about my life.

“After my dad died I found a small, brown, battered case among hispersonal possessions. Inside was an amazing miscellany of keepsakes.

"There were photographs, my tonsillectomy bills, the card my mum receivedfrom church when she became a member, my mum and dad’s work references,some of the notes from my dad’s accountancy course, letters – many ofwhich they’d written to each other when my mum was in hospital, sympathycards and the newspaper announcing my mum’s death.”

By the age of 20 and a qualified primary teacher, Maggie was soon to betasked with taking a class of more than 40 pupils to the swimming bathsin Dundee on her own on the public bus in midwinter.

She recalls: “Lochee Baths were both old and compact. The changing roombelow was communal and known as ‘The Dungeon’. I don’t remember therebeing any hair driers, so during the cold weather damp hair froze. Girlswith long hair were transformed into ice maidens, with icicles in theirhair!”

She now hopes her story will inspire those who read it to record theirown family memories. She believes the book will appeal to others wholost a parent in childhood, who coped with having a child with adisability or who simply grew up through the Baby Boom years, as shedid.

Her daughter Linsey (42), a journalist, said: “Reading thistransports me back to my mum’s time – a time when life was simpler andless pressurised. I love the references to the music, the food, theclothing and landscape, and even the Archers, as well as some of thevery colourful characters my mum met along her route.

“For me two images sum up my life with my mum: her taxiing us around inher orange Fiat Mirafiori listening to Dionne Warwick’s Raindrops KeepFalling on my Head; and the Angel Delight and Ruskoline years of my mumjuggling eggs as she danced round the kitchen to Robbie Shepherd’sScottish Country dancing show on the radio.”

The book is published by For the Right Reasons, an Inverness publisherand charity dedicated to helping people recovering from addictions.

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