Would-be Paralympian
gets set for marathon

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An aspiring Paralympian will be flying the flag for Yorkshire in the Virgin Money Giving Mini London Wheelchair Marathon tomorrow.

Twelve-year-old Lottie Wilcocks, who has spina bifida and hydrocephalus, will be raising funds for Dogs for the Disabled.

Lottie, who has an assistance dog called Velvet from the charity, wants to emulate her heroes Hannah Cockcroft and David Weir in winning Paralympic gold medals for Great Britain.

“Velvet is my best friend,” said Lottie, of Ripponden. “She comes everywhere with me and gives me confidence to do things I couldn’t do without her.

“I am raising money for Dogs for the Disabled because they do an amazing job and without them Velvet and I would not be the fantastic team that we are.”

Velvet accompanies the youngster, who came second in the Great North Run in 2013, when training for road and track wheelchair races.

Paralympic gold medallist Hannah Cockcroft, who hails from Halifax, said: “I’m so touched by the support Lottie Wilcocks gets from Dogs for the Disabled assistance dog Velvet and thrilled Lottie wants to follow in my tracks and try to win the London wheelchair mini marathon.

“My first win in April 2009 was the start of a hard journey towards many world records and two Paralympic golds and I know Lottie aims for Paralympic glory too. We West Yorkshire girls are hard to beat and Lottie has a great future in wheelchair racing.”

Just hours after she was born Lottie, who cannot walk and gets around in a wheelchair, underwent nine hours of major surgery and since then has had orthopaedic, bowel and bladder operations and brain surgery.