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Colleen's school trip trouble ends

PUBLISHED: 16:26 02 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:18 03 March 2010

DISABLED youngster Colleen Ward has reason to celebrate after winning her fight to attend her nearest high school.

DISABLED youngster Colleen Ward has reason to celebrate today after winning the fight to attend her nearest high school.

Colleen, 11, of Willowcroft Road, Ipswich, feared she would face a nightmare trip every morning, taking TWO buses to school, one into town and one out again – and then facing the same tiring trek in the afternoon.

Turned down for nearby Thurleston High School because she lives just outside the catchment area, Colleen was told she must go to Westbourne, even though it is too far for her to walk and there is no direct bus link.

Now, following The Evening Star's report last week, education chiefs have had a change of heart.

"We got a letter from Suffolk County Council saying they were pleased to inform us that our application had been

reconsidered on medical grounds and Colleen could go to Thurleston," said her mother Nuala Springate.

"I'm delighted and we are sure it is all thanks to the report in the Star. Colleen is so pleased."

Mum and stepdad, Mark, had been preparing to go to an appeals panel next week, supported by letters from paediatricians, physiotherapists and a social worker.

Now they will be spared that ordeal and can start making plans for the 11-year-old's first day at high school.

However, because she does not live in that school's catchment area, the family will have to pay her bus fares.

The decision also means that applications can now be made for special school

equipment Colleen needs, including a

specially-adapted computer.

Currently a pupil at Castle Hill Junior School, she suffers from a rare muscle-

wasting disease, CMT (Charcot-Marie-Tooth Type One).

This means wearing splints on her hands and legs and preparing for a wheelchair due to be provided soon.

If forced to attend Westbourne, Colleen would have to catch one bus into the town centre via Norwich Road and another taking her back out again along Bramford Lane.

The family worked out that she would have to leave home at 8am every day to reach school by 8.50am.

Now she will only need a nine-minute bus trip from Willowcroft Road to Thurleston High School in nearby Defoe Road.

The family say they are also delighted Colleen can now attend the Thurleston school because it is well-equipped with ramps and lifts to help handicapped pupils.

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