‘Cerebral palsy will never stop me from being successful’

Rachael Wallace pictured on her graduation day.

A woman with cerebral palsy has said her condition “will never stop” her from being successful.

Rachael Wallace has spent most of her life overcoming obstacles.

She has used a wheelchair since early childhood as a result of the condition and faced years of bullying at school.

But the 26-year-old refused to let it get in the way of excelling in life and is now fighting for better medical care for people with cerebral palsy.

Rachael — who is studying for a PhD in law at the University of Dundee — has launched a petition calling for the establishment of specialist NHS treatment for adults with the condition.

She recently took her fight to the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament

Speaking to the Tele, Rachael said: “There was a decline in my condition about six or seven years ago after I had left the paediatric service when I was 18.

“I approached Murdo Fraser, my local MSP, who helped raise the issue at Parliament.

“We weren’t getting anywhere and because I have a background in law I was comfortable submitting a petition to get some action.

“There’s no clinical pathway for cerebral palsy sufferers but there is for people with MS or Parkinson’s.

“It’s just not right and it’s had an impact on me personally.

“I’ve had to go to my GP to find all the support services available to me.

“It’s not just in Tayside this is happening — it’s all over.”

Rachael, of Alyth, added: “Cerebral palsy sufferers have got no support whatsoever.

“It’s a complex condition and needs to be managed like any other.

“The medical profession seems to view it that when you get to 18 you’re no longer disabled.

“The government wants it all treated at a local level but it will end up becoming like a postcode lottery for treatment.

“Adults should get the care they deserve and that’s why I’m so determined to get it.”

After leaving Blairgowrie High School, Rachael obtained her LLB from the University of Dundee before working as a researcher on employment law — the subject of her PhD — as well as completing a masters in criminal law.

Rachael Wallace
Rachael Wallace

But she didn’t have an easy route to academic success.

“Attending Blairgowrie High School wasn’t exactly the best experience of my life,” she said.

“I used to get bullied a lot and I did find it quite difficult to cope, particularly when you’re watching other people do things that you physically can’t.

“I just had to keep a positive outlook. I was determined to succeed academically and that’s what I’ve done.

“Living with a condition like this isn’t easy — there are a lot of challenges to be faced.

“Leaving school was the best thing that happened to me because there was so much more out there for me and it really helped me grow as a person.

“The motivation to get there and explore is what got me through all those tough times.”

Rachael said because of what she has gone through she wants to “fight for the rights for people who have been through something similar”.

She added: “Getting into employment is still a challenge when you’ve got this condition.

“There’s still such a long way to go in terms of improving things for people with disabilities.

“But I just hope the government can take an important step and provide the kind of care people with my condition deserve.”