Little Portadown boy Blake McCaughey has enjoyed his first proper ride in a shopping trolley, thanks to a specially designed model at the local Asda store.
The eight-year-old, who suffers from a rare muscular condition, was even able to tick items off the shopping list as he helped his mum Christine do the groceries with sister Pixie (5).
Christine said the trolley had transformed the shopping experience for everyone. “It’s physically impossible to push a wheelchair, carry a basket, watch him and keep an eye on his sister too so this was an amazing experience,” she said.
“Blake just loved the trolley. He was secure and comfortable. He was able to sit up and relax ... and his sister was able to bring her ‘baby’ too as I didn’t need her to help keep an eye on Blake.
“We were getting a few things for holiday and I thought the trolley might be too bulky to fit in the disabled changing room but it was perfect – there was room for the trolley, Blake, his sister and me and still plenty of room to get changed. There was also a bench for Blake to lie on while I tried some things on him.”
She also liked the fact the trolley seat faced her so they could chat while they shopped and she could keep an eye on him more easily.
Blake has a rare condition – believed to be the only one of its kind in the world – and cannot walk, eat or drink. He is fed by a tube as he can only ingest 70ml of fluid an hour.
His mum and dad Andrew keep a close eye on Blake at all times. Christine explained, “If he was to take a drink he’d drown himself and would die within half an hour.”
Blake also has a leaking aortic valve so will need open heart surgery either later this year or next year.
Two years ago, a well-supported fundraising campaign, ‘Blake’s Wheels’, helped raised money to buy Blake a custom-made wheelchair.
Christine said Blake is “so much fun” despite everything he has to contend with and is full of mischief. “We try to get out as much as possible as a family – he loves going to rugby matches and ice hockey games. He can wheel his own wheelchair but he does get tired easily because of his heart condition,” she said.
“The trolley might seem like such a simple invention but when you’re out and about with him it’s fantastic. It’s so hard normally to find things that make life a little bit easier.”