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Young designer's 'life-changing' Scallop seat helps Swansea girl with cerebral palsy

Simple pleasures like sitting on the floor wrapping Christmas presents were once denied to Evie. Photo: ITV News

A seven-year-old girl is looking forward to a very special Christmas this year - thanks to the clever creation of one young graduate.

Evie Hopkins, from Swansea, has cerebral palsy, which affects all four of her limbs as well as her balance and mobility.

She can't sit unaided without toppling over, which once made simple pleasures like wrapping Christmas presents, a day out or even eating a meal at the table a struggle.

But thanks to a specially designed seat known as the Scallop, Evie is now able to join in with her family and friends.

I really can't overestimate the difference it's made. It's just been an absolute life-changer for her. Just the smallest things in life, it's just made it that much easier. And you wouldn't believe the difference. It's brought her confidence, she's more engaged with us as a family and we're doing a lot more as a family than previously we would have been able to do. So it really has made such a positive impact on her life.

– Jason Hopkins, Evie's father
Product design graduate Keira Gwynn (right), pictured here with Evie, is the creator of the Scallop seat. Credit: University of Wales Trinity St David

The Scallop was created by Keira Gwynn, a product design graduate of University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

Keira, 23, then developed her idea with R82, a company that specialises in seating, standing and walking aids for children.

As a result of the project, Keira now has a full time job with the company.

I visited many families and institutions while developing the product. It was incredible and so heart-warming to see a product that I had designed impact a child’s life in such a positive way.

– Keira Gwynn

The Scallop has adjustable sides which close as the user sits back, supporting the person but also giving them the freedom to move.

It isn't designed to replace other aids like a wheelchair, but is an option that can be used alongside them - particularly as it is light and portable.

It has proven particularly useful at the family's local beach, which they rarely visited before due to the challenges it posed for Evie.

Sports-mad Evie is now looking forward to going to more rugby and football matches, and has recently enjoyed her first pantomime.

She has also been able to use the Scallop in school, which has helped her to feel more engaged with her friends.

Previously, Evie would be sitting in her wheelchair or specialist seat, which looks like a baby’s highchair, and would be on a higher level than her friends, who would sit on the carpet.

Now Evie is sat on the floor alongside them all, playing instruments and talking, which makes her feel fully included.

– Karen Hopkins, Evie's mother

Emily Gadd reports: