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Calaiswood School praises Spider-Man dad who helped raise thousands for ‘incredible’ mobility machine

Dave Roper with daughter Lucy (standing) and pupils Emily Birrell and Ethan Buchanan .
Dave Roper with daughter Lucy (standing) and pupils Emily Birrell and Ethan Buchanan .

A Dunfermline additional needs school has praised the efforts of a local parent who helped raise thousands to buy an “incredible” machine which helps pupils with their mobility.

Calaiswood School, which provides specialist education for children who have complex and additional support needs, raised more than £30,000 to purchase an Innowalk machine.

The apparatus allows children who have severely limited mobility to stand and walk independently.

The fundraising effort was led by parent Dave Roper, whose son attends the school, and means the school now has two machines which can serve pupils of all ages.

See pupils Emily Birrell and Ethan Buchanan using the Innowalk machines: 

“It was about fundraising as much as I could”

Dave was inspired to kickstart the fundraising effort after his successful lockdown escapades, which saw him dress up as Spider-Man and run round the streets of Dunfermline to keep spirits up.

He said: “After the lockdown I decided to ask the school what would make a big difference to them and Laura Spence (Calaiswood head teacher) said, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, getting another Innowalk machine.”

Calaiswood head teacher Laura Spence with Dave Roper, Dave’s daughter Lucy Roper and pupil Emily Birrell.

“We committed to doing it and it was about fundraising as much as I could.

“I did a lot of online raffles as well as running, getting Xboxes and PlayStations – 100% of that went to the fundraising effort.”

It took around nine months for the fundraising effort to smash its target and Dave was full of pride that he has been able to give back to the school that has helped his nine-year-old son Liam.

“It was unbelievable. It’s around £37,000 for one of these and I didn’t expect to do it as quickly as we did.”

“When we first moved to Scotland, we came round the school and we were blown away by how good it was and how the staff were.”

Dave Roper ran the streets of Dunfermline during the coronavirus lockdown dressed as Spider-Man. Also pictured are his wife Kirsten Roper, son Liam and daughter Lucy. Picture by Steve Brown / DCT Media.

Calaiswood School’s second machine

The new Innowalk machine is suitable for older pupils, meaning they can continue to develop their core strength, mobility and stamina.

Calaiswood head teacher Laura Spence explained: “Our first Innowalk only serves children up to a certain size and weight and a lot of our children who have benefited from using it have had to stop.

“So what this new one gives us is continuous provision right though until they leave school at 18 – it’s incredible.”

Ethan Buchanan (P5) showing off his skills.  Supplied by Calaiswood School.

“The pupils get excitement and joy when they use this piece of equipment and the long-term benefits are significant.”

“It’s an amazing amount of money”

Ms Spence was full of praise for the efforts of Dave and the “amazing” amount of funds he has managed to raise for the school.

She added: “When Dave came up with this idea and starting fundraising for Calaiswood we didn’t think for one minute the scale of fundraising he has managed.

“It’s an amazing amount of money. Our school is relatively small, there are less than 70 pupils, so fundraising can be really challenging for a school of that size.

“The community understanding of the school is very important because we are all about inclusion and how the children here can experience what they need to thrive.”

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