Sisterly love spurs Trowbridge youngster to ride Wiltshire Big Wheel

Emily Gunning, eight, and sister Jessica, six. Picture by Trevor Porter

Emily Gunning, eight, and sister Jessica, six. Picture by Trevor Porter

First published in News
Last updated
by , Senior reporter for Trowbridge

TROWBRIDGE youngster Emily Gunning is taking on the Wiltshire Big Wheel in September to raise money on behalf of her sister who suffers from a rare condition called Smith-Magenis syndrome (SMS).

Eight-year-old Emily decided she wanted to do a cycle challenge for the SMS Foundation after watching her dad take part in the Dorset Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge in May.

Sister Jessica, six, was diagnosed when she was 18 months old with the disorder, which causes delayed speech and language skills, sleep disturbances and behavioural problems.

Emily, who attends Studley Green Primary School with her sister, will be doing the 12-mile family route accompanied by her mum Leila on September 7, to raise awareness of SMS.

Mrs Gunning, who lives with husband Greig and their two daughters in Hornbeam Road, Trowbridge, said: “Emily enjoyed watching her dad do the Coast to Coast challenge and she wanted to do a similar thing.

“We did some research to find the Wiltshire Big Wheel. She said she wanted to do it in honour of her sister, as she is always looking out for Jessica and is very supportive.

“Jessica’s condition is very challenging, but Emily is one of the most tolerant children you could ever meet and handles it really well. We had never heard of it before she was diagnosed but it was a relief when we found out as we knew what we were dealing with.

“We do get quite a lot of people giving Jessica looks if she is playing up in public, but there is not a lot she can do about it, so it is good to make people more aware of Smith-Magenis.”

The SMS Foundation supports sufferers’ families and provides information for professionals working with families.

Mrs Gunning added: “Emily has been out cycling at weekends with me and getting used to riding further and further distances. She also contacted the SMS foundation to ask for a fundraising pack and has worn her Smith-Magenis Foundation T-shirt on every practice ride.

“We are extremely proud of Emily for taking on this challenge and the maturity and enthusiasm that she has shown.”

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