Girl’s conquest of Arthur’s Seat 'shows most things can be inclusive'

Oona Dooks, 10, climbed the Edinburgh peak in a specially adapted wheelchair with the help of a team of rugby league players.

Disabled girl’s conquest of Edinburgh’s Arthur’s Seat shows most things can be inclusive, says mother PA Media

The mother of a disabled schoolgirl who realised her dream of climbing Arthur’s Seat said her daughter’s achievement showed “you can probably make most things inclusive”.

Oona Dooks, 10, climbed the 823ft high peak in Edinburgh on Sunday in a specially adapted all-terrain wheelchair, with the assistance of players from two Edinburgh rugby league clubs, having long wanted to climb the hill she could see from her front door.

After a year in the planning, the climb saw two players pushing the specially designed wheelchair and another two harnessed to the front “like a husky dog team” while Oona used handles to steer.

Her mother Eleanor, who was with her daughter on the climb, said her daughter “loved the whole thing”, and that she’s very sociable and was more interested in chatting and joking with the players than she was in the views.

She described the climb as a “really nice community story”, and said the biggest joy was “being able to get everybody to the top”.

“We live in a world where kids are very often given the message that being the first is really the most important thing, or being the fastest or the best,” she said.

“And I think it’s really nice that this was just about getting everybody there. And the joy that comes from being that being together and being able to get everybody to the top was really special.

“I think that’s probably the most important message and the fact that if you can get someone up Arthur’s Seat, you can probably make most things inclusive.”

Oona Dooks on her way up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.PA Media

She added: “This was a really great way to show Oona – and others too – that doing something with the help of others is just as much something to celebrate. It can mean even more, and bring even more joy than when you do something alone.”

Martyn Gill, chairman of the Edinburgh Giants wheelchair rugby league team whose players assisted in the climb, said that everybody involved had found it “a life-changing experience”.

“I think everybody that was involved found it a life-changing experience, probably more than more than we thought, when we were greeted with the reception of people cheering when we got to the top and everybody looking across to come and talk to her and ourselves.”

He said some Edinburgh Giants players with limited movement joined the climb as far as they were physically able to, and then waited at the bottom and acted as a support crew when Oona came back down.

Mr Gill said that people often stigmatise disability, seeing it as meaning someone cannot do something, but said Oona’s achievement demonstrated otherwise.

“I think that’s just shown that if you do have a dream, and you kind of put that out there in the universe, (there’s) the potential that that dream could come true.

“And I think if you look at that photo of her sat on the pinnacle of Arthur’s Seat, she was the tallest person in Edinburgh that day, and I think she obviously felt like it as well.”

This was a view echoed by Gordon McGregor, founder of GM4X, the company that made the Paratreker All-Terrain wheelchair Oona used on the climb, who said her achievement was “fantastic, and shows what people with disabilities can do”.

The retired police officer, who also runs a charity dedicated to providing outdoor adventures for people with disabilities, continued: “There are really no boundaries. Yes, it takes specialist equipment to get people there, but with a bit of thought and effort and using the right equipment, then journeys like that are absolutely possible.”

Mr McGregor, who was with Oona on the climb, also said how much it meant to her: “She had an absolute ball, she loved it, she achieved her goal, which was fantastic, and the reaction from people on the hill was just incredible.”

Eleanor thanked everybody involved in helping her daughter realise her dream, saying it’s “something we will remember forever”.

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