A YOUNG girl who was left to deal with the heartbreak of losing her dad has now become her mum’s primary carer.
Queen Anne High School pupil Brooke Gardner was just 11 when her father, Anthony, was killed in a road accident in May 2015.
His car collided with a lorry on the A9 in the early hours of the morning when he was travelling back from work.
Along with facing this devastation, Brooke is now the primary carer for her mum in Dunfermline, who has progressive multiple sclerosis.
Mum Fiona McGougall, 34, told the Press: “I’m reliant on my family for many daily things such as holding a cup of tea or taking a bath.
“Brooke has coped absolutely brilliantly with it all and she takes everything in her stride.
“Me and Tony weren’t together but he was very much a big help to me and Brooke. It was a complete shock for us all when his mum phoned to tell us what had happened.
“They believe he fell asleep at the wheel and drifted.”
Fiona began feeling the symptoms of MS when she was 15 but was only officially diagnosed in 2006.
Fiona, who used to be a nursery nurse, added: “When I was younger I would go to the doctors all the time. It was a long battle just trying to figure out what was the matter, almost like a jigsaw puzzle.
“It felt like a tingling and numbness but I was really quite active then. Now I get tired very easily and my lack of mobility is very noticeable.
“When we go out for a meal, people stare at me because I can’t cut my food up and they think I’m drunk!
“I feel quite isolated and it hugely impacts your life because I just want to stay in the house. People are very judgemental.”
Brooke,13, who has a blackbelt in kickboxing, said: “The past couple of years have been hard at times but I have loving family members to look after me.
“I have to do the housework and make the tea, it’s not something that you see the rest of your friends doing.
“When I make plans I always have to keep mum in mind because she might need help getting out of the bath.
“But my friends and school are very supportive and I’ve been able to get involved in Young Carers, which is fantastic.
“If I leave when I’m older then our family will help mum, I would really like to be a drama teacher.”
Fiona’s brother, Colin McDougall, will be taking on the challenge of running six half marathons and six marathons over the next year to raise money for MS research.
Colin, 31, an Amazon delivery worker, will do one run a month and said: “In the next five years I can see that Fiona will have to get a wheelchair.
“Brooke sometimes gets frustrated but most of the time she just gets on with it. She’s brilliant.
“It was such a shock for the family when Tony passed so suddenly away, but all these trials have only brought us closer.
“We’re always looking out for Brooke and Fiona but we want to give them the space to live their lives too.”
Colin, who will start his challenge on March 12 in Inverness and will finish his long haul of marathons at London 2018, added: “It’s quite common to see people running marathons now so I thought I would take it a step further and do 12!
“If my sister can get through the day-to-day living with MS then surely I can get through 200-odd miles.
“There’s not a lot that she can do to manage her pain, there’s various tablets but honestly there isn’t a lot to help.
“I started properly training a few weeks ago but I think my wife has just realised that she’s not going to see me much because I’m just going to be training all the time!”
Colin has raised £200 so far on his justgiving page but would love to reach his £2,000 target. To donate, visit, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/colin-mcdougall1?utm_id=26