Clitheroe woman helps disabled children learn to ski

Reach for the Stars: Holiday-makers and volunteers on their trip-of-a-lifetime to Pflersch, South Tyrol, Italy. (s)
Reach for the Stars: Holiday-makers and volunteers on their trip-of-a-lifetime to Pflersch, South Tyrol, Italy. (s)
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INSPIRED by helping out at disability sessions at Pendle Ski Club, Clitheroe woman Ella McIntosh was spurred on to volunteer to offer her services as a ski guide on a special holiday to Italy, hosted by charity Katie’s Ski Tracks.

Founded 20 years ago, the Liverpool-based charity gives disabled and terminally ill children a once-in-a-lifetime holiday where, regardless of ability, they learn to ski and build their confidence.

Each year, the charity hosts the trip for 20 children and 30 volunteers, including nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and ski instructors.

Ella (25), a Pewtersmith of Shawbridge Street, Clitheroe, said: “The aim of the trip was to give the children the chance to let their hair down, with a break away from their routine of hospital appointments and the chance of a normal holiday. The children are from all around the UK and many will never have been away on holiday, as they need round-the-clock care and specialised equipment with them at all times. To be a part of it was absolutely fantastic and words can’t describe how wonderful it was to see the kids come out of their shells as the week progressed. You could see their confidence increasing both when skiing and also from a social point of view and it was amazing to see them progress.”

The charity takes adapted ski equipment for the trip, including sit-skis and ski frames, which allow the children to experience the thrill of the high-adrenaline sport, whatever the extent of their disabilities.

Ella continued: “I’m a keen skier and snowboarder and met some of the Katie’s Tracks ski instructors at Pendle Ski Club, when they were helping out at the monthly sessions. My role on the trip was as a ski guide, encouraging the children and teaching them to ski, but also entertaining them at night. We had such a great time and the children had lots of new experiences, which is what the trips are all about. The charity’s motto is “Reach for the stars” and they aim for the children to carry this mindset home with them, back to their everyday lives.”

It costs £2,200 per child for the 10-day holiday and every single penny is raised by volunteers, who also donate their time free of charge to the charity and raise the money for their own fare. Katie’s Ski Tracks is taking part in a competition run by M & G Investments, to receive a 10,000 Euro donation. Voting is simple and free of charge – visit: www.mandgski.com. To donate to the charity securely, visit: www.katiesskitracks.org

• A raffle in aid of the charity will be held at The Factory Shop, Clitheroe. Tickets are available from the till point, priced £1, with all proceeds going to Katie’s Ski Tracks.