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Dream Come True for Wigan Rugby Fan
Thursday 30th June, 2011

Meet Keyleigh Brown from Ince. She’s 15 and, like many her age, she’s an avid rugby fan and desperate to meet her hero, fullback Sam Tomkins.

And, thanks to Wigan Council staff and Embrace, she will get that chance and meet the team after their match against Leeds Rhinos on Friday.

This would be extra special for most fans, but for Keyleigh, it’s extraordinary, because daily fits caused by epilepsy and cerebral palsy mean that she can never leave her house without parental support

“I’m not allowed to go out because of my condition but I know it’s for my safety,” says Keyleigh. “I always see teenagers on their own, shopping with friends or laughing and joking. It really upsets me though – sometimes I feel like shouting.”

Officers from the council’s People Directorate have been working with her family and for six weeks Keyleigh had two volunteers with her from the Children’s Preventative Services. They have enabled her to taste independence for the first time in her life and do the things that she sees other young people doing, like going out shopping with people her own age and mixing with peers.

Keyleigh has made the decision to have a risky operation to stop her fits which she hopes means she can have a normal life. She told her support volunteers that in case she didn’t come through the operation, her wish was to meet Sam Tomkins.

And so, young volunteers Lindsey Hilton and Laura Ainscough made the arrangements with council staff and this Friday they will be special guests of the Warriors in the DW Stadium’s Executive Lounge.

Keyleigh says there aren’t many people to talk to about her condition. “I felt happier when I heard two girls were taking me out for six weeks,” Keyleigh adds, “I am really grateful for the befriending service.”

Team manager Jan Lee says her colleagues were inspired by the comments of Keyleigh and the work of the volunteers. She says: “The work they have done is tremendous in making this girl’s dream come true.”

Cllr Susan Loudon, cabinet champion for young people, adds: “This is a heartwarming story of someone pushing to overcome their difficulties. Council staff and volunteers have given her a real confidence boost and an excellent opportunity. They’ve shown just how valuable the work they do is.”

Keyleigh appreciates how lucky she has been. She says: “I know there are others out there in the world worse than me."

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