Credit: Carla Woods

Mum’s joy at kindness of strangers who gifted wheelchair-bound daughter with dream garden

A Dublin mum has spoken of her joy at the “unbelievable kindness” shown by two strangers who worked together to give her 6-year-old daughter her dream garden.

Carla Woods (31) is mother to six-year-old Gracie May, who turns seven later this month. Gracie, who was born at just 27 weeks, has cerebral palsy and is wheelchair bound. The little girl, who attends mainstream school and is full of laughter and mischief, is a living miracle to her mum, who says she knew she would be a fighter from the moment she laid eyes on her.

The mother and daughter moved into a wheelchair accessible home in 2020 after being on a waiting list for social housing for several years. While they were pleased, Carla asked the housing corporation if something could be done about their outside space, which was not accessible for her daughter.

Gracie and her mum Carla (Credit: Carla Woods)

“Gracie and I finally got our forever home – wheelchair friendly for Gracie – three years ago. We were delighted but we had so many problems in the process with the housing corporation.

“We needed a ramp but we couldn’t get that done. I really wanted the back of the house to be paved in concrete so Gracie could swivel her wheelchair around. They wouldn’t be able to do it all in  concrete as it wasn’t in their budget,” Carla told Gript.

“They could only afford to give us one bit of concrete out the back, but it looked terrible. I really wanted a nice outdoor space for Gracie during the summer, but it was just not a nice space. There were weeds growing and it was like a building site – it was just really unsafe out the back, and there was nowhere to set Gracie down in her wheelchair outside.”

Carla was quoted €8,000 for the cost of concreting the space – something she says was above her budget as a single parent and full-time carer for Gracie.

“I was begging the corporation to do something, but it wasn’t in their budget. We always use the back bringing Gracie in and out of the house, so I really knew something needed to be done. I asked the corporation how much would it be to get it done privately? They said they could do it privately for us, but they were coming back to me with a figure of eight grand,” she said.

The mum of one says that for the last three years, the family’s outside space has been unusable – that is until local woman Martina Plunkett Stritch, and her friend Trevor, owner of Ashbourne Paving Ltd in Meath, stepped in.

“It just wasn’t affordable. I’m a full-time carer to Gracie and I had to leave work when I had her as Gracie will never walk and needs so much care. I was upset because I knew I couldn’t afford it.

“So I went on Facebook – I wasn’t looking for anything for free, that’s not my style – but I put up a status and asked if anyone knew someone who could do it for cheaper, because I was getting mad quotes for such a small area.”

Her social media message was picked up instantly by Martina – a local lady and mum who wanted to help. She reached out to Carla and told her she and her friend Trevor Macken could help.

“She was like an angel. I didn’t know her from Adam and here she was so willing to help me,” Carla recalls.


Martina phoned the mum of one, and told her she knew a friend with a paving business in Ashbourne.

“I said to her, ‘How much do you think he could do it for?” And she told me without hesitation, “No, he’ll do it for nothing.” Straight away I said to her, ‘No, no, no, he can’t do that, but she was adamant.’”

“She told me, ‘No, we really want to help you.’ I was thinking to myself, this is too good to be true, this is never going to happen.”

But to Carla’s shock, one week later, on July 21st, Trevor from Ashbourne Paving arrived bright and early at her door.

“Literally a week later, Trevor arrived at his door with his team at eight in the morning. I just couldn’t believe it. It was unbelievable – he didn’t want anything, it was just so, so kind. These two strangers who I had never met in my life showed Gracie and I such kindness.

“The workmen were amazing, and were so professional throughout. They were here all day – and didn’t stop once to take a break. Trevor was going on a family holiday the next day, but he was just so determined to get it done in time for us,” Carla told Gript.

“To be honest, the back of the house was just a joke. It was so bad, there was no ramp or anything, so Gracie just couldn’t go outdoors at all in her wheelchair. And it’s absolutely brilliant now. Trevor made it so smooth and perfect for Gracie, it was such a professional job, and he never asked for a penny.”

Despite living in their home for three years, Gracie was rarely able to sit outside. Now, Carla says the little girl “is never out of the garden” – and even fell asleep outside while enjoying the warm weather one evening this week.

“She wanted to sleep out there,” Carla laughs.

Gracie enjoying her new garden this week

“Gracie’s in that back garden every day. We’ve been in this house three years, and we were never in that garden. It was just too dangerous for Gracie. It was so amazing of Trevor and Martina to organise this, when it would have been so easy to scroll past that Facebook status. We feel really privileged.”


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“We’ve just been blown away by the support and love. I’ve never met anyone as kind as them – Martina organised the whole thing for us. They have both been like angels to us. Gracie always said to me she wished she had a garden, so she’s just delighted now.”

“I was never asking for anything. I was just asking for recommendations, and I couldn’t get over these two people who I didn’t know wanting to help me,” the single mum added.

“Martina still contacts me every day to see how we are doing, and Trevor has been in touch constantly too to check in with us. Having them as friends now is really an extra bonus.

“Trevor even recently sponsored a marathon to raise money for Gracie, and he’s doing a Go Fund Me, set up entirely by him, to raise some more funds to really transform our garden and add the finishing touches,” Carla said.

Life hasn’t been easy for Carla as Gracie’s full time carer, however she is adamant she wouldn’t change a thing. Having a child with additional needs has made her a better and stronger person, Carla says, adding that, during the tough times, she has been uplifted by people she has met along her parenting journey.


“It has been a very rough few years. I was 24 when I had Gracie. She was born at 27 weeks with cerebral palsy and a bleed to the brain. It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve been on the most wonderful journey and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

“To see such kindness from strangers, it has just totally restored my faith in humanity. It makes you realise there is such goodness out there. I cried all day after I saw the new garden – that’s how much it meant to me.”

“Gracie is the happiest girl ever, and she is truly grateful for the garden. I got her a swing chair, and she’s been out sitting in it all week in her new space. She even wanted to go to sleep in it. Before Trevor did this, I was in a position where I couldn’t bring her out into the garden. It really upset me.

“But this man with a business stepped in and did this for us for nothing. Because he is a father of children himself, I think he just understood us. He had this sense of empathy and compassion for us.

“It was the loveliest experience that someone could take time out with their workers to do this. It would restore your faith in humanity. I was ringing up the corporation for months asking for help to do something about the back. We couldn’t get anything, but Trevor has made things so much easier for us now,” she adds.

“When Trevor and Gracie met each other, they just hit it off. She got a lovely feeling from him straight away, and she is so fond of him. We just want to make it extra special for her now.

“When I heard Trevor had set up a GoFundMe, I couldn’t believe it. But it’s not about the money. What we have is more than enough – not many people do anything for free, so it’s just blown us away. But he is so persistent and wants it to be as nice as possible for her.”

For Gracie’s birthday, an artist is going to paint the outside walls especially for the little girl, paid for by Trevor, and Carla plans on adding finishing touches including sensory butterflies to make the space more engaging for Gracie. The 6-year-old, unlike most children her age, doesn’t visit parks often because there aren’t many things she can go on.

“It’s very hard to bring Gracie to parks and things, because it can be very frustrating for both of us, as she can’t do anything in the park. So it gets us really down, and I really just wanted to have that space where she could go in the summer.

“Her and I can sit out there now, and I can put her in her swing chair, she can do water play, and I can watch her. So it’s ideal for us – that’s her special space and I’m so glad she has that. It sounds like such a small thing, but it was one of my wishes, and it means so much to us. I used to dread looking out there, but now it’s just so lovely to sit out in with Gracie. ”

Trevor told Gript that his goal is to make the garden a “magical place” for the six-year-old. He has so far raised an extra €1,120 to put towards the project. All of the work he has done so far has been for free, but he wants to raise extra money to give to the family.

Talking about the initiative, the father of four said: “We did it because I just thought it was so wrong that this poor child had nowhere to go, and didn’t even have her own garden.

“Martina sent me the Facebook post from Gracie’s mum, Carla, back a couple of months ago. I reached out and said I would do it, so we booked the job for the last day of the holidays in July.”

“We made a lovely little bench for her as well, it’s a great space now and we’re delighted Gracie loves it. A few people, when they heard of the project and that we were going to do it, said to me they would like to donate some money towards it,” he added.

“So when we finished the job, we set up GoFundMe for that reason. I’ve asked people to go to that page if they would like to donate money to finish the space off with furniture and different things like that, and I’ll pass the money on to Carla, and she can spend it on whatever she wants to make the space really magical.

“I’ll have it up for another week or so, after which we’ll withdraw the money and give it to Carla so she can put it towards finishing the space and making it extra special.”

In addition, Trevor and his partner Chelsea are running a half-marathon this Saturday in the hope of boosting donations.

“We’re so pleased with any donation, large or small, to put towards this little Princess to make life just that bit easier. She deserves it. She’s an inspiration,” Trevor said.

You can donate to the fundraiser for ‘Gracie’s dream garden’ here.

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