Plucky Maya aims to follow her hero Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson

Maya Ratcliffe and her family
Maya Ratcliffe and her family
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There is no stopping Maya Ratcliffe - not even a premature birth, 15 operations, epilepsy and meningitis.

But the three-year-old from Drybread Road, Whittlesey, who was diagnosed in the womb with Spina bifida and hydrocephalus and was not expected to survive being born, would love a new lightweight wheelchair so she can keep up with her friends and follow in the path of her hero.

Mum Fay Dovey (28) said: “Her inspiration is Tanni Grey-Thompson, who also was born with spina bifida. She often wheels round the room shouting ‘I’m going fast like Tanni’ or ‘I’m winning like Tanni’.”

Baroness Thompson won 11 Paralympic golds in her sporting career.

Spina bifida is a fault in the development of the spine and surrounding vertebrae which leaves a gap or split in the spine. Hydrocephalus is a condition where fluid accumulates around the brain.

To help raise £2,500 for Maya’s new wheelchair, a petanque fundraiser is being held at The Vine in South Green, Coates on Sunday, August 30.

Fay said: “Maya is unable to walk and is a full time wheelchair user. She is independent in her wheelchair provided by wheelchair services but it is heavy and hard work and puts a lot of strain on her.

“She is unable to keep up with her friends whilst playing at Alphabet Day Nursery and her younger brother Max (2).

“With a lighter chair we are sure she will be whizzing about in no time and all her friends and me will be finding it hard to keep up.

“My dream is to have to chase off after her down the street because she will be so fast!”

Maya was born prematurely in October 2011. She developed meningitis at just one-month-old and had five major life-saving brain and spine surgeries in the first two months of her life, and 15 overall.

Twice she has come close to passing away, but she is now in better health and in October will complete the Great Eastern Run Fun Run for the second year in a row as the family raise money for charity Shine which has continued to support them.

Despite her health difficulties, being diagnosed with epilepsy and needing more surgery in the future, Fay said: “Each time she bounces back stronger than ever fighting all the way. Nothing will stop her.”

The event is free entry, with a raffle and stalls available, but to enter the petanque doubles it is £10.

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