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WATCH: UHI Inverness student with crippling arthritis raises money for charities close to her heart

By Annabelle Gauntlett

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Rachel Fraser is a student at UHI Inverness.
Rachel Fraser is a student at UHI Inverness.

A student from UHI Inverness is pulling together a night of glitz and glam to raise as much money as possible for The Oxygen Works, the charity assisting her since she was diagnosed with debilitating arthritis in her spine.

Rachel Fraser (35), originally from Aberdeen, is currently studying at UHI Inverness for a degree in events management, and has had to overcome many obstacles throughout her time there.

In July 2021 she suffered a "life changing" fall at home which impacted both her physical and mental health.

Day-to-day tasks, including simply walking, became too painful and it was shortly afterwards that she was diagnosed with arthritis in her spine.

She said: "It was really difficult getting that news in the middle of my studies, but it has been an ongoing battle to be totally honest.

"I can no longer walk down the street without using a crutch, and occupational therapy has been in and out of my house putting up aids to try and help me.

"Just being able to get up in the morning is a huge struggle, but I get there slowly.

"Not only am I affected by my spine, I am also affected by my balance as it is completely off due to dyspraxia."

Dyspraxia is a developmental coordination disorder that can affect balance and concentration.

Rachel continued: "Dealing with all of this when going back to UHI Inverness was tough, but it has been an absolute godsend because I get my learning support every week and support from staff."

She is now pulling an event together in aid of two charities she admires: The Oxygen Works and Munlochy Animal Aid.

The Oxygen Works is a Highland-based centre of excellence providing transformative support to individuals living with neurological and complex health conditions.

The Black Isle-based Munlochy Animal Aid provides care for sick animals and works to rehome them.

Rachel said: "As part of one of my modules called 'the main event' we are supposed to plan, manage, execute and evaluate an event that is for a charitable cause, so I decided to make mine a glitz and glam music event.

"The two charities that I have picked mean so much to me personally."

When talking about Oxygen Works, she said: "I have just had medication thrown at me, which is why the Oxygen Works has been a life saver for me.

"Some days I have awful symptoms and my arthritis just flares up, so to have a place that alleviates those symptoms has been great.

"Not only have they helped with my physical health, but they have helped me with my mental health too.

"They have wellbeing groups there every month, so it's good to be a part of something."

Rachel Fraser and her partner Jo Hercher.
Rachel Fraser and her partner Jo Hercher.

When talking about what people can expect from here event, Rachel said: "On the night there will be three amazing musicians, including Donald Mackay – who played with Peat and Diesel as a support act – Andy Bannerman and Charlotte Johnson.

"Everyone will be dressed up in glitz and glam, there will be an incredible raffle and the chance to take lots of pictures with a glitter backdrop.

"It's just meant to be a fun, exciting night, full of entertainment and good food!"

The event takes place from 7pm on February 3 at the Glen Mhor Hotel in Inverness.

Tickets are £15 each and are available to purchase in advance via Eventbite.

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