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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Let Laura speak in mayor's new campaign

Cockermouth's new mayor of Allerdale has launched a £12,000 fund-raising drive to help a 24-year-old woman speak for the first time in her life.

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FUND-RAISING DRIVE: Cockermouth’s Len Davies, the new mayor of Allerdale, with Laura Oglanby, 24, of Aspatria, and her mum Berni. Coun Davies wants to raise £12,000 to help Laura to communicate

Len Davies, 70, of Windmill Lane, was elected on Wednesday and announced that he would use his year in office to help Laura Oglanby, of Queen Street, Aspatria, who has cerebral palsy.

Councillor Davies, who is also an Allerdale and town councillor for Cockermouth, said: “When I hear her speak for the first time I will be doing an Andy Murray-style celebration.

“I was astonished when I found out she couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even begin to imagine not being able to speak. It’s something you take for granted.

“We are going to work our socks off to get Laura talking.”

Laura has been confined to a wheelchair since she was a year old, with virtually no limb movement.

Coun Davies said he wanted to buy her a computer device that will enable her to communicate for the first time.

The machine is called Eye Gaze and would involve Laura using her eyes to produce a computerised voice similar to the device used by Professor Stephen Hawking.

It is estimated that the kit will cost around £12,000 and will be supplied by the Sequal Trust charity, which provides communication aids for disabled people.

Laura’s mother Berni, 51, said: “She does get frustrated at not being able to speak. You can see that in her face.

“It was great when I heard Len would be fund-raising for Laura.

“I have always said that if someone gave me a wish for either Laura to walk or talk, it has always been to talk. It would be great to have a conversation.”

Andrew Lawson, Workington town and Allerdale councillor, plans to support the effort by doing a sponsored sky dive.

Laura’s brother Nathan, 21, is organising a football dinner, with an auction of memorabilia and a guest speaker.

Laura is a huge Carlisle United football fan and regularly attends matches.

Any money left over from Coun Davies’s year as mayor will go to the sea cadets, army cadet force and air training corps.

Coun Davies took over the chains of office from Bill Bacon at a ceremony at the Hundith Hill Hotel, Cockermouth, on Wednesday.

He will be supported by his friend Harriet Chappell as mayoress. Mrs Chappell, 42, of Mansion Gardens, Greysouthen, is an instructor at Cockermouth Pilates Studio and lives with husband John, 43, and children Neo, nine, and Scarlett, seven.

Coun Bacon, who represents Workington’s Moss Bay, and his wife Valerie were elected as deputy mayor and mayoress.

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