Hitchin’s Ellie-Mae, 13, in basketball bounce challenge to raise money for blind military veterans

Ellie-Mae Spencer, who lives in Hitchin, came up with the idea for the basketball challenge herself,

Ellie-Mae Spencer, who lives in Hitchin, came up with the idea for the basketball challenge herself, and it took a lot of effort to complete. Picture: Courtesy of Blind Veterans UK - Credit: Archant

A 13-year-old girl with complex disabilities set herself the challenge of bouncing a basketball 1,000 times in a week to raise money for a military charity that supported her great uncle before he died.

Ellie-Mae Spencer, who lives in Hitchin, was inspired to fundraise by Colonel Tom Moore - the 100-year-old military veteran who raised £33 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden.

Ellie-Mae, who has autism alongside other complex disabilities, decided to raise money for Blind Veterans UK because of the support they had given her great uncle, who had served in the RAF and died last year.

She said: “My great uncle suffered from macular degeneration in his later years and I know Blind Veterans UK did so much to help him. I wanted to do something and give back to the charity that had given him so much.”

Ellie-Mae’s mum, Sarah, said: “Ellie-Mae was set a project by her school for VE Day and this is what she wanted to do. It took a lot of perseverance and effort and she even received a commendation from the headteacher for the project. We’re extremely proud of her.”

Ellie has raised £447 so far, and you can still support the cause by visiting justgiving.com/fundraising/elliemae7 and making a donation.

Blind Veterans UK helps visually-impaired military veterans rebuild their lives after sight loss, through rehabilitation, training, practical advice and emotional support.

During the coronavirus pandemic, the charity has adapted its service to support its 5,000 beneficiaries - 90 per cent of whom are over 70.

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Nicky Shaw, the charity’s director of operations, said: “Having to self-isolate, blind veterans need our help right now with daily tasks, such as shopping, and constant emotional support through this difficult time, so we are temporarily changing our service and mobilising our staff to provide practical, essential support to help the most vulnerable.”

She added: “There is so much we can and must do to support blind veterans to help them maintain physical and emotional wellbeing, and to feel safe, reassured and cared for during this crisis.”

For more about Blind Veterans UK, visit blindveterans.org.uk.