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Brave Highland battler Lenny (2) is still her cheeky little self

By Gavin Musgrove

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‘She is smiling all the way and still her cheeky little self’

Lenny McConnell, from Cromdale, is bravely battling Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) – a type of blood cancer, her family have said in an update to the Strathy.

They were commenting after a fundraising walk by a group of friends on the West Highland Way which has given Lenny’s parents Barry and Claire Findlay and their children ‘a massive boost of strength’.

The two-year-old is currently undergoing chemotherapy at the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.

Craig Rose was joined by brother Alan (Glasgow), Campbell Graham (also Glasgow), David Orr (Aviemore), Fergus Leith (Aviemore) and Seamus Doyle (originally from Aviemore) on the recent 100-mile walk scenic walk which brought in around £12,500 to help the family.

Mr McConnell said he and his loved ones can never thank them enough: “The guys did amazing to walk 96 miles in that heat in five days.

“The funds they managed to raise is unbelievable – we were lost for words.

“To raise such a sum from such a small area shows that our communities are definitely together when they want to be.

“It has shown us that so many people care and so many people want to help. It has given us a massive boost of strength.

“It will help us so much but also help lots of other families having the same struggles.

“We went to see the guys finish in Fort William, give them the pat on the back and the biggest thank you we could.

“Sadly Lenny wasn’t able to come but we will get the guys over to see her soon as we can.”

Providing an update on his daughter’s progress, Mr McConnell said: “Unfortunately, Lenny was switched onto the most intensive treatment plan of chemotherapy at the start of June.

“This means we have had to move to Aberdeen for the foreseeable future whilst we get her better.

“She is receiving lots of treatment on a daily basis – although sometimes she is unable to get the treatments as her blood counts are too low or because of continuous infection due to being immunosuppressed.

“But she is doing great. She is smiling all the way and still her cheeky little self.”

Mr McConnell, who works for Walkers Shortbread in Aberlour, added: “The NHS has provided us with a lovely flat which means we can have our other two kids Andrew and Alba staying over with us during the holidays.

“It gives us time to be a family and Lenny some time to have fun with her brother and sister.”

“The support from everyone has been overwhelming at times. We would just like to say a massive thanks to our families, friends, both of our employers and anyone else who has supported us in any way.”

'Eaten alive by the midges'

The West Highland Way fundraisers left Milngavie on June 13 and finished at Fort William on June 18, averaging around 20 miles a day and overnight accommodation being a mixture of camping, glamping and hotels.

Recalling the trip, Mr Rose, who now lives in Dunfermline but has spent most of his life in Aviemore, said: “It was really, really hot for the walk which was rather uncommon for Scotland!

“It was scorching for the first four of the five days.

“It was little overcast for the fifth day thankfully for the final 14 miles.

“Some of the boys suffered with some pretty bad blisters but it was a really good walk and we got chatting to some people along the way.

“We stopped for a dip in Loch Lomond on the second day which was nice.”

The off-shore oil platform worker continued: “One of the nights was not the best to be honest. We stayed at Beinglas Campsite and it was quiet on the site when we arrived which we thought was a bit odd.

“I got up to go to the bathroom later that night and there was an absolute midgy fest.

“I took a wee clip of them to send to the others thinking that they would all be fast asleep – but they all messaged back into the group saying that they were all suffering too.

“We were all being eaten alive.”

“I think I saw until 3.40am that morning – it was a trade-off between being bitten by midges and putting on layers of clothing for protection and being too hot.

“I have experienced midges before but that was definitely the worst I have seen and will not forget them in a hurry.”

There was a nice surprise awaiting the group as they crossed the finish line.

Mr Rose said: “When we got to the end, we met Barry and two of his wee ones which was really nice but a bit emotional. It was nice to see them for an hour or two and then they popped back up the road.”

“We raised just over £12,500 after the fees were taken (by JustGiving) which we were delighted with and a big thanks to everyone who donated.”

The blood cancer ALL starts from white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. Adults and children can get it but it is most often diagnosed in younger people.

n Donations can still be made at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/lennymcconnelljustgiving

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