A set of special Angus twins have hit a surprise milestone after medics said they would never learn to walk.
Inspirational Ayley and Chloe Hirsch from Carnoustie were born with cerebral palsy and underwent life-changing surgery after a year-long battle to raise money for an American procedure.
The girls, now eight years old and in P3 at Carlogie PS, are a happy pair who still undergo regular physiotherapy to reinforce the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) they underwent in 2012.
Parents Averil and Frazer launched a battle to raise funds for life-changing surgery in February 2011.
Since then the family has marked milestone after milestone.
And 1st Carnoustie Boys Brigade member Matthew Michie has now surprised the girls with three levels of Kellogg’s Scottish Swimming Awards Scheme certificates they have earned during his volunteer work for the brigade’s highest honour.
Matthew is in his 13th year at BBs and is pursuing the Queen’s Badge, as well as the gold Duke of Edinburgh Award through the company.
As his volunteering section of the award, he welcomed the challenge of teaching Ayley and Chloe in February, and has been delighted by their progress.
The 17-year-old is the first boy to get the opportunity to progress to DofE gold through the BB.
He said: “I have really enjoyed teaching the girls to swim and I feel I have learned a lot from them as their dedication and effort constantly amaze me and I feel privileged to have this opportunity.
“1st Carnoustie Boys’ Brigade Company section have provided me with so many experiences and opportunities that I will remember all my life.”
Averil was unaware of the surgery before reading in The Courier how Perthshire toddler Jack McNaughton, who suffered from the same condition, had got his mobility back after being operated on in the US following a fundraising drive.
Help Ayley and Chloe Walk was then born after the Hirsches had an emotional meeting with the McNaughtons.
Inspired by Jack’s story, Averil and Frazer had set themselves the target of £80,000, but more than £175,000 flooded in from the community for the youngsters.
Dr TS Park operated on Ayley and Chloe in January 2012 at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri and their lives have been transformed.
Averil said: “We, as a family, can’t thank everyone enough for all the support and care they have given our girls.
“We are truly grateful to each and every one of them.”