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A schoolgirl who’s helped kids like her baby sister is fundraising champion

An inspiring eight-year-old East Kilbride girl has battled through the pain of juvenile arthritis to raise funds for the charity that supports her baby sister, who was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus.

Now, schoolgirl Laila McRae has been crowned this year’s ScottishPower Foundations Charity Champion for her incredible fundraising efforts for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland (SBH Scotland).

Laila was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis – which only affects one in 1000 children – when she was just three.

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That hasn’t stopped her raising more than £2000 in the last year alone to make a real difference for her baby sister, Amber – who has endured numerous surgical procedures in the first year of her life – and others supported by SBH Scotland.

Laila’s fundraising efforts included drawing rainbows of hope and displaying them around her local community with a JustGiving link to SBH Scotland, taking part in the 2.6 challenge during lockdown, and completing the Kiltwalk in April – a tremendous achievement given her arthritis.

A schoolgirl who's helped kids like her baby sister is fundraising champion
Laila with her rainbows of hope

Laila proved that there really can be a pot of gold at the end of her rainbow when the ScottishPower Foundation gave a £5000 funding boost to the vital charity, which has made a huge difference to her family.

Clare Cogan Turner, from Cumbernauld-based Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Scotland, told Lanarkshire Live : “The past 12 months have been hugely challenging for the voluntary sector and for the families we support.

“Almost overnight, we had to write off about 50 per cent of our fundraising income.

“However, thanks to the selfless support of individuals like Laila, we are able to continue supporting families across Scotland affected by spina bifida/hydrocephalus.

“Laila is a wee star and we can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Charity Champion award.”

Laila’s mum Leanne told us how SBH Scotland had supported our family and Amber all the way through her journey.

She added: “It’s been hard for us, but there was no stopping Laila when she decided she wanted to help.

A schoolgirl who's helped kids like her baby sister is fundraising champion
Champion fundraiser Laila is an inspiration

“We’re so proud of what she has achieved for Amber and everyone supported by the charity – it was no mean feat, but she did it.

“She is real inspiration to everyone around her and we’re so chuffed the ScottishPower Foundation has recognised that.”

The ScottishPower Foundation Awards showcase projects that make a positive impact on people and communities across the country.

The successful projects – which support individuals, families and young people from across the UK – range from developing skills for employment, arts programmes and support for mental health to helping homeless people.

They are open to recipients of this year’s ScottishPower Foundation funding, which saw almost £1.2m awarded to a wide range of outstanding charities.

The projects are judged in four categories: Innovation Award, Education Award, Community Engagement Award, and Charity Champion Award – which gives special recognition to the outstanding contribution made by an exceptional employee or volunteer who exemplifies what their organisation stands for.

A schoolgirl who's helped kids like her baby sister is fundraising champion
Laila posted her rainbows around her community

Melanie Hill, executive officer and trustee of the ScottishPower Foundation, said: “Huge congratulations to this year’s Foundation Award winners and runners-up, who all help improve lives and change lives.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to honour the amazing work of our Foundation-funded charities through our Awards celebration and, as always, it was an almost impossible task to choose between the finalists.

“However, Laila and her efforts for SBH Scotland alongside our other worthy winners from across the UK all stood out from the crowd in how they went above and beyond to make a difference for others.

“They epitomise what the ScottishPower Foundation stands for and they are incredible charity ambassadors – not just for their own organisations, but for the whole of Scotland.

“I can’t wait to see how they put their prize money to use and continue their incredible charitable work across the country.”

The full list of winners and runners-up is available on the ScottishPower Foundation website.

The ScottishPower Foundation was established in 2013 to make a significant and lasting contribution to society, enhancing the lives of people living in communities throughout the UK.

It provides funding to help support the advancement of education, environmental protection, arts and culture and citizenship. It also supports charities who aim to provide relief from poverty, disability, or other disadvantages.

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