A PARALYMPIAN who competed at London 2012 is urging Lakes people to support The Westmorland Gazette’s Wheels for Will appeal.

Mandy Pankhurst, who was a member of the UK air rifle team, is backing our bid to raise £25,000 for a specially adapted all-terrain cart (ATC), which will allow Will to regain the freedom of his beloved Lakeland fells.

So far, more than £8,500 has been donated by Gazette readers towards the quad.

Mandy, who broke her back in a riding accident, said she was stunned after hearing that Will had been left paralysed from the neck down in a cycling accident.

She recalled how the 27-year-old had helped her in 2006 when he was in a volunteer team that pushed her to the top of Helvellyn in a specially adapted wheelchair.

“I was very grateful to Will and the others for helping me achieve my ambition to enjoy the panoramic views from the summit.,” said Mandy, a long-standing friend of the Clark family.

“I’d been up Helvellyn before, but it was misty and I couldn’t see anything – but the day that Will helped push me up there was incredible and I’ll never forget it.”

Mandy, who lives near Guildford, in Kent, added: “I know it will be difficult for Will at the moment, but my message to him is that with everyone’s support he has hope. It will be especially good for him if he can return to the fells and I would urge Gazette readers to donate to the Wheels for Will Appeal so he can achieve that.”

Will’s mother, Angela Clark, described the reader response to the appeal so far as ‘truly amazing’.

“Will wants me to thank everyone who has donated,” she said. “It’s been fantastic. He has enjoyed reading all the notes and cards that have accompanied the donations and is deeply touched by the response.”

Angela revealed that a ‘spare’ quad had been donated to the Will Clark Fund so Will could be accompanied on to the fells when he finally gets his ATC – but the standard quad is in need of repair.

“The donors have offered to supply spare parts if we can find a mechanic who will volunteer to fix the machine for free,” said Angela.

The Wheels for Will appeal is running alongside the Will Clark Fund, set up by people in Grasmere to help support Will and enable him to live in the community where he grew up.

This has been boosted by the sale of 3,000 Christmas cards featuring a watercolour painted by Will’s 14-year-old cousin Lucy Baxter, who has cystic fibrosis.

In a twist of fateful irony, Will was taking part in a charity bike ride to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust when he had his accident in July.

Meanwhile, the Will Clark Fund is to be the main beneficiary of next year’s Marafun run by Ambleside and Kirkstone Rotary Club. The event, on May 26, involves teams of five completing the full marathon distance in a relay where each member runs 5.2 miles.

For details visit http://www.amblesidemarafun.co.uk

How you can help

  • Send your donation (cheques only) made payable to The Will Clark Fund, along with your name, address, contact telephone number and email address to: Wheels for Will, c/o Allan Tunningley, The Westmorland Gazette, 1 Wainwright’s Yard, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4DP. Cheques should be marked on the back ‘Wheels for Will’.
  • Alternatively, you can donate via online banking or at a bank branch to the following account: Santander, P O Box 383, 21 Prescot Street, London, E1 8RP. Sort code: 09-01-28; Account number: 34788191; Account Name: The Will Clark Fund; Quote as reference: Wheels for Will.