Wildwood Trust, the British wildlife park and conservation charity came to the rescue this week to help a terror-stricken father face his ultimate fear in order to raise money for his disabled daughter.
Keven Gabriel , from Ramsgate, got in touch with the wildlife park in a bid to boost his fundraising efforts to help his 13 year old daughter Eleanor, who suffers from muscular dystrophy. After watching Eleanor battle bravely with the condition her whole life, Keven decided to match her courage and face his biggest fear; a crippling phobia of bees.
Keven, who believes that his phobia (called apiphobia) stems from being stung as a young child, has lived with an acute fear of the flying insects for as long as he can remember. His fear has stopped him from enjoying his love of nature and is a major challenge to Keven whenever he needs to be outdoors; be it in his personal or professional life.
But inspired by his brave daughter Eleanor; Keven decided to face the ultimate challenge and contacted Wildwood to see if they could help. Hearing about his quest to raise money for Eleanor’s care, the Wildwood team leapt at the chance to help and invited Keven to come along and become a beekeeper for a day. Under the watchful eye of the park’s own resident beekeeper, John Holmes, Keven faced his fears by opening the hives to carry out a range of checks amongst tens of thousands of resident bees. Keven said “Eleanor has been so brave throughout her life and has faced so many challenges, what I did today was terrifying but it does not compare to Eleanor’s bravery.”
At just 13 years old, Eleanor is completely wheelchair bound due to muscular dystrophy; a hereditary condition which causes progressive weakening and wasting of the muscles. Both of her hips have become dislocated and she in constant pain. Her only option for exercise and pain relief is hydrotherapy but the current lack of accessible failicities mean that the family desperately needs to build their own hydrotherapy pool to allow Eleanor the minimum of 4 sessions a week that her doctors recommend. The pool would also benefit Eleanor’s mum, Zara who also has muscular dystrophy and her brother Daniel who is autistic.
Keven’s day at Wildwood raised an amazing £500 towards the pool; making bringing the total raised so far to £2,500 with a further £2,000 needed to complete the project. Wildwood’s Trusts & Foundations Manager, Jo Sage said “We were delighted to help Keven and are thrilled at the money that has been raised. We have recently been working to educate people about bees, so by helping Keven we hope we can show people not to fear, but to admire our wonderful bees.”