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PICTURES: Four-year-old Harry Ritchie-Mackenzie who was born with a congenital heart defect and was thought would never walk puts his best foot forward and covers 500 metres around the grounds of Culloden House Hotel in aid of the Maggie’s Highlands cancer care centre


By Ian Duncan

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An “inspirational” youngster has completed a charity challenge that doctors and his parents would at one time have thought impossible.

Four-year-old Harry Ritchie-Mackenzie walked 500 metres around the grounds of Culloden House Hotel in aid of the Maggie’s Highlands cancer care centre this week.

Aided by his walker and accompanied by friends Davie and Norrie the feat was remarkable given the fact that Harry was born with a congenital heart defect, treatment for which as a baby resulted in a brain injury that medics said would leave him unable to walk.

He was cheered on his way on Wednesday by two fire crews, a Minion and other supporters – including nurses from Raigmore Hospital.

He was inspired to take on the challenge by his child minder Morven Reid who is herself undertaking a five day 500-mile cycling challenge for Maggie’s.

Speaking before Harry undertook his walk she said: “Harry could barely pull himself up to standing when I first met him, so for him to walk 500 metres round the drive at Culloden House is fantastic.

“It is typical of Harry and his family to want to help me regardless of what they are going through.”

Andrew Benjamin, fundraising manager for Maggie’s Highlands, said Harry was one of the most inspirational individuals he had ever met.

“It was absolutely fantastic and I was really pleased that Harry, obviously with all his problems that he has, completed his 500 metre walk,” he said. “It looked like he was having so much fun.

“I have got to know Harry over the past few months and it is such a privilege.

“To defy all the odds and go on and do that was just inspirational.

“You meet him and he is just so happy and he is smiling all the time.”

He added that he was delighted that two Inverness fire crews from Red Watch had been able to lend their support on the day, adding: “Harry’s face lit up when he saw the fire engines.”

Maggie’s Highlands provides free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends.

Harry has so far raised more than £700 for the charity.

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