FRIENDS of a disabled rights activist, who has muscular dystrophy, are raising funds to adapt her new Prestonpans home.

Katrina Sweeney, a trained counsellor who dedicates her life to supporting disabled people, celebrated her 49th birthday in Edinburgh’s Saughton Park with loved ones on July 2 – until recently, the average life expectancy of someone with muscular dystrophy was just 18.

Muscular dystrophy is a hereditary condition marked by progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles, often diagnosed in early childhood.

Katrina was a talented young ballet dancer but by the time she reached her teenage years she was confined to a wheelchair.

Katrina, who currently lives in the centre of Edinburgh, fell in love with her new Prestonpans property but she has been unable to move in due to a lack of essential equipment and modifications.

Before Katrina takes up residency in her new home, she requires the following adaptations: ramp access into the property and garden; an inside lift fitted to accommodate her electric chair to access the upstairs bedrooms; a refitted bathroom with accessible bath and hoist; a bedroom ceiling track hoist; electric operated doors; SMART technology to operate lights and heating; and a disabled parking port.

Her loving friends have rallied behind her to set up a GoFundMe account to fund the renovations – the page has raised more than £2,800 out of their £20,000 target so far.

Anne-Marie Comber, GoFundMe organiser and close friend, said: “Katrina has put all her energy into challenging prejudices, stereotypes and promoting equal rights for disabled people.

“She has been such a positive role model within the disabled community.

“Her journey has not been easy and many young people have been lost to this progressive condition.”

Katrina became an independent living advisor to help disabled people set up their own support packages, move out of institutionalised environments and become more involved in their local communities.

Anne-Marie added: “Katrina also trained as a counsellor to allow her to help those struggling with mental health issues due to disabilities.”

Sadly due to the 49-year-old’s progressive condition, the activist has had to medically retire.

Katrina now requires 24-hour care and needs her personal and daily-living care done for her, using hoists for every function.

She uses an electric chair as she does not have any remaining muscle function left, aside from slight movements in her hands – she relies on a ventilator to breathe and has a machine to help her cough.

Sue Pearson, another close friend, said: “Katrina is so excited about her new home.

“She currently lives on the ground floor in a flat in Edinburgh but since newbuilds were put up opposite, she has had very little sunlight and she loves the sun.

“Her new property has a lovely garden near the sea.”

Anne-Marie added: “Katrina’s determination and zest for living life to the fullest has been an example to us all.

“She has a wicked sense of humour and wears the most amazing kinky boots – she does not have to walk in them, though.”

To donate to Katrina’s home renovations, visit