A SCHOOLGIRL who spent more than six months in hospital has regained some of her independence after the purchase of an electric wheelchair.

Kind-hearted members of the public collected more than £70,000 after Poppy Smith became unwell in September 2016.

The youngster, from Gullane, was initially suffering from cold-like symptoms but woke the next morning unable to swallow or move her arm.

It was the start of a lengthy spell in hospital, with Poppy being diagnosed with a rare condition called acute flaccid myelitis. The condition damages nerves in the spinal cord – in Poppy’s case those supplying the speech, swallow and breathing muscles, as well as her limbs.

In August last year, the brave youngster returned to Gullane Primary School alongside big brother Alex and sister Jessica.

Now, some of the funds raised have been put to good use with the purchase of an electric wheelchair for Poppy.

Her mum Laura said the wheelchair was making a world of difference.

She said: “The electric wheelchair has been purchased for Poppy using some of the Team Poppy funds raised.

“She wouldn’t be offered one on the NHS.

“It will help reduce the risk of scoliosis by supporting her sitting position whilst giving her a lot more independence.

“At the moment, Poppy has to be pushed to school and back in a manual wheelchair and the new chair means that she can drive herself.

“It also allows her to play with other children on the school field.

“In the manual chair, she has to ask if she wanted to be pushed somewhere and wait for someone to take her.

“The independence will be more and more important to her as she gets older, and the electric wheelchair can be adapted as she grows – hopefully lasting three to five years.”

The youngster held a special party in September last year to mark her seventh birthday and also a year since she was first diagnosed.

The party gave the family the chance to thank everyone for their support, with fundraisers ranging from film showings and golf days to football tournaments and cheese and wine nights.

Laura said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone who supported the fundraising events over the last year.

“In terms of the overall picture, she is doing well.

“She is at school full-time now and is only ventilated at night [not during the day].

“Unfortunately she is still unable to swallow and is fed via a gastrostomy and her arms remain largely paralysed. She has regular physiotherapy and hydrotherapy and we hope that she’ll regain more strength and function over time.

“She loves being at home and back part of the community in East Lothian.

“She really likes when people recognise her and say hello.

“She gets upset about her life being difficult, and tired from all of her therapies, but she works very hard and always has a smile on her face. We are so proud of her.”