During her short life my sister Caitlin (17) was truly inspirational; everyone was always amazed by her determination to carry on as a normal young person despite her huge physical difficulties and being bed bound for the past 4 years. Due to her progressive neurological disease CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy) she no longer had any movement from the neck downwards and was confined to bed. Despite all this she was highly intelligent and had just completed 3 AS Levels with great grades. She had her lessons and exams in bed and had to use a scribe. She wore non-invasive ventilation 24 hours a day as she had less than 20% lung function. She also endured 7 years of treatment for the disease which tragically had no effect and did not stop its progression. She endured a huge scoliosis operation in 2011 and after that operation had a number of chest infections which led to a respiratory arrest in December 2011. She suffered a huge amount of pain and wore a 100mcg Morphine patch continually together with a cocktail of other pain relieving drugs that my mum used to give her on a daily basis. Caitlin peacefully passed away in her sleep on the 17th November, following a very bad chest infection.
All in all she was an incredible inspiration to everyone she met and they were all amazed by her determination to live life to the full and by her courage. Anyone who met her went away humbled and determined not to moan about the little things in life. Despite all this her passion for musical theatre never diminished. She attended Stagecoach for 10 years, and from her bed achieved both Grade 7 in her Musical Theatre Singing exam and also Grade 5 in the LAMDA Theatre Performance exam. She never shied away from performing and took part in local productions and got to the final of Herefordshire’s Got Talent, performing from her wheelchair. Not only was she passionate about performing herself, but also wanted to help people in the same position as her to be able to perform on main stage.
In honour of Caitlin we want to raise money for Graeae Theatre Company. Graeae is a professional theatre company set up in the 1980s in response to the huge lack of representation and opportunity for deaf and disabled artists on main stages. They aim to champion accessibility and inclusive practices, break down preconceptions and place deaf and disabled artists centre stage.
They are currently fundraising to run a second year of their Ensemble programme which aims to provide a stepping stone for young deaf and disabled theatre makers to go on to have a career in the creative industries. The money raised will go towards this programme which provides the young people with training from industry professionals and leading drama schools. The link to the crowd-funding campaign is here if you'd like to read more, but please still donate through us: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/graeae-ensemble.
Caitlin inspired so many people and changed the lives of disabled people across Britain through her phenomenal Eyegaze Fundraising Campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/2y2zba7w). She managed to raise over £33,000 which bought an Eyegaze for herself and enough money for another four Eyegaze Systems for other young people in a similar situation to herself. Please help us continue her good work by raising money to enable disabled people to participate and flourish in the theatre. Let her live her dream of performing in the West End by helping others do the same.
It would be wonderful if you could make a donation no matter how small - every little donation will help. If you could share this and our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/caitlinsstars/) on social media, that would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you!