Landmarc ensures Christmas comes early for brave Birmingham student

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Landmarc ensures Christmas comes early for brave Birmingham student

For local Birmingham City University (BCU) student, Jennifer Smyth, Christmas has come early, thanks to the generosity of Landmarc Support Services in helping her towards her goal of walking again.


 
The official handover took place at Jennifer's hall of residence at the University Locks, Birmingham where Jennifer received her ReWalk robotic exoskeleton. L to R, Fiona Mcknight-Burton - Communications Coordinator, Kevin Kneeshaw - Regional Operations Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland, Jennifer, Stephen Ruffle - ReWalk Robotics Sales Manager and Lee Martin - Finance Director.

Following a recent golf fundraising event, Landmarc has raised an incredible £60,000 to purchase a robotic exoskeleton from specialist company ReWalk Robotics (ReWalk) – a life changing piece of equipment which will enable Jennifer, who is currently a wheelchair user, to regain her independence.

Jennifer is in her second year of a product design degree at BCU and grew up in Eglinton, near Limavady in Northern Ireland. At 16, she was a promising gymnast until a training accident left her, tragically, quadriplegic. Since then, Jennifer has defied medical odds and through her community’s fundraising efforts, known as Jennifer’s Journey, has gone on to excel in her physical recovery and her academic achievements. 

The ReWalk 6.0 has now been supplied to Jennifer in a small ceremony where Landmarc staff were able to see her walk, under the guidance of her ReWalk mentor, Stephen Ruffle, for the first time in over four years.

Jennifer, who would like to pursue a career designing mobility products for other people affected by injury, explains how the ReWalk will make such a difference to her life.

“Although doctors told me I would never be able to walk again, I have always been determined to get on with my life.  The ReWalk is truly life changing and is the only device on the market that is able to climb, meaning that at some point, I’ll be able to walk upstairs and on uneven surfaces, unaided.  I would have never been able to afford to buy my own suit and words can’t express how grateful I am to the Landmarc staff and all of their friends for purchasing the equipment for me.

“I also have the highest classifaction of spinal cord injury of anyone who has been able to use the ReWalk.

“I absolutely love it. It’s hard work at first and I’m going to need to have quite a few training sessions but to be able to stand again and be at the same height as everyone else around me is incredible.”

Kevin Kneeshaw, Regional Operations Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland at Landmarc, who handed over the ReWalk to Jennifer at her halls of residence at University Locks along with Landmarc Finance Director, Lee Martin and ReWalk Robotics Sales Manager Stephen Ruffle adds:

“Jennifer’s Journey is a cause very close to the hearts of the staff at Landmarc. Jennifer’s father used to work for our Scotland and Northern Ireland region until he sadly passed away very unexpectedly. He undertook lots of fundraising to help fund the treatment needed to help Jennifer with her recovery, so in his memory, the local team has been determined to take on the mantle to do whatever possible to help aid Jennifer’s rehabilitation. To be able to see her standing and walking again is truly inspirational.”

Jennifer will now go on to receive one-to-one training from the ReWalk team and its Birmingham training partner, NPP Neurogroup, to help her use the suit independently. ReWalk is also training Jennifer’s physiotherapist in Northern Ireland, Kim Gregg, on how to use the new equipment, so that she has continued support when she’s at home in Eglinton.