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Co Down woman turns on No 10's Christmas Tree lights

Prime Minister David Cameron attends the switching on of the Downing Street Christmas tree lights with Michaela Hollywood, far left. Picture by Lauren Hurley, PA Wire 
Marie Louise McConville

A 'TRAILBLAZING' campaigner who has raised thousands of pounds for good causes and boosted awareness for those suffering from disabilities was invited to London on Thursday to help switch on the Christmas Tree lights at Downing Street.

Michaela Hollywood, from Crossgar, Co Down, was invited to flick the switch at Number 10 by British Prime Minister, David Cameron who gave the 25 year-old a Points of Light award earlier this year.

Born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a progressive muscle-wasting condition, Michaela founded Trailblazers in Northern Ireland in 2008 after she encountered difficulties accessing a music concert in Belfast.

In 2012, the group successfully lobbied Easyjet to change their policy on wheelchairs so that the airline no longer retains a wheelchair weight limit that excludes motorised wheelchairs.

The group also works together with transport providers, the property industry and entertainment businesses to tackle problems uncovered by their reports.

Michaela has also helped secure £200,000 in funding for support services and has also raised more than £10,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK since she was 17, including completing a marathon in her wheelchair this year.

The University of Ulster student was one of 15 people recognised earlier this year by David Cameron's Points of Light awards.

Speaking after the switch-on, Michaela said visiting Downing Street was "such an honour".

"But to then have the privilege to turn on their Christmas lights is absolutely incredible," she said.

"Christmas is a very special time of year for me and I was honoured and delighted to turn on the Downing Street lights. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity I know myself and my family will cherish."

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