On leaving Jedburgh Grammar School in the summer of 2010, Ancrum teenager Gemma Scott had her life all planned out in front of her.
A keen athlete and a member of the TLJT athletics club, the youngster signed up to study sports and exercise at Borders College, with a view to a future career in physical education.
A year later, however, Gemma’s dreams came crashing down when, while she was asleep, she became paralysed from the waist down.
Gemma told The Southern: “I woke up not being able to feel or move from my waist down.
“I was rushed into hospital and my mum was taken into a room and told by doctors that I was paralysed.
“Ever since I was 10 I had been interested in athletics.
“I was a sprinter and was being coached by Bruce Scott and Jock Steede from TLJT. Everything I loved to do suddenly came to an end.”
Now, at the age of 20, Gemma’s condition remains unexplained, but over the past two years she has rekindled her love for speed.
“I was invited to a Paralympic Flame festival in Edinburgh before London 2012,” she explained.
“This was the first time I’d ever saw a racing wheelchair or spoken to someone about the sport. I started to watch footage of Hannah Cockroft and David Weir, thought they were amazing and just had to try it out.”
Since then, she hasn’t looked back. She has taken advice from Red Star AC coach Ian Mirfin and is coached by her dad, Michael Scott. Over the last six months, Gemma has won six gold medals at various events and has been constantly improving her times. What she really needs now, though, is her own racing chair.
“Having a custom-built chair would mean that I was getting the correct support,” said Gemma, who is in the process of raising funds and hopes to achieve her goal by the Jedburgh 10k in October.
Pam and Graeme Armstrong, from the City of Edinburgh Running Festival, joined the effort during the recent running meet at Meggetland and, at Jedburgh Border Games, Pam, with the help of the crowd, managed to raise £480.
“I am very grateful and would like to thank everyone who donated,” added Gemma.