New Lanark teenager Clare Turley is sitting pretty in her home – in her own sensory suite.
Friends and supporters throughout the area have been raising funds for over two years to provide the computer-controlled interactive equipment needed to create a soothing environment for the 12-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy.
Tiny fibre-optic lights in the ceiling bathe Clare’s room and bathroom in a wash of colour and, simply by turning over a huge cube, Clare can change the colour, giving her control of her surroundings.
Her room includes a vibrating cushion large enough for her to lie on, while coloured bubbles, again linked into the lighting, climb inside a glass panel. Tiny fish drift up and down another water column in the corner, and lights twinkle in a wall-hanging and shimmer up and up and down the fibre-optic curtain between the room and her bathroom.
Clare attends Stanmore House School in Lanark, and a former art teacher has painted colourful mermaids on the bathroom walls, but the new system sends hypnotic water patterns wheeling around it.
Clare loves her new sensory magic – and it was installed just in time.
She has been very ill this summer, spending almost four weeks in intensive care in Glasgow, and the soothing music and colour of the sensory room has been vital since she came home.
“She loves it,” said mum Alison. “The smile says it all!”
Alison and Kerr were overwhelmed with the fundraising and donations which helped create the room for their daughter, giving her her own space in a loving family home. Clare’s oldest sister Siobhan, 26, is grown up with her own family, but Rachael 14, and Thomas aged eight, are at home, and now she has her own restful oasis of calm and colour away from the bustle when she needs it.
The equipment alone cost some £13,000, and Kerr has been installing as much of it himself as he can to keep the costs down.
“We would like to thank everyone,” said Alison.
“There are too many people to thank.”
The couple are also surprised at how well known their daughter has become and they were taken aback at the scores of good wishes left on her Facebook page while she was in hospital.
“Clare is so well loved. It is amazing. She is a celebrity,” said Alison.
Clare had one very public appearance in Lanark this year.
Chosen to present the flowers to the crowning lady, she was part of the Lanimer procession, dressed as a princess in a horse-drawn coach.
Life, however, is not always calm in Clare’s new suite. She is a serious Kojak fan, so much so that Santa brought her the boxed set of the tv series at Christmas, and it can run on her room wall for hours!