Walking down the aisle is daunting enough, but for Bella Luckett these were her first steps ever.
The four-year-old suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to stand unaided but thanks to a newly-created harness, called an Upsee, her father Gary was able to support her while she was a flower girl at her aunt’s wedding.
Mr Luckett, 29, of Ivel Close, Eaton Ford, along with his son Oliver, nine, was an usher at his sister’s Louise’s wedding to Jonathan Heathcote-Curtis. After waiting for the guests to take their seats at St Nicholas Church in Wilden, Bedfordshire, on Saturday, April 12, he and Bella put on the harness.
“I saw a video about the harness on the internet and about the woman who created it,” said Mr Luckett. “I noticed that there was a company that were making it, so I gave them a ring to find out more.
“I mentioned about the wedding and it snowballed from there. They made one for Bella and incorporated her dress into the design.
“By this point I was getting worried about the cost, but they said they would do it free of charge.”
The new outfit was kept as a secret from Bella until nearer the big day, just in case something went wrong.
“We were also worried that she wouldn’t like it,” added Mr Luckett, who works for an offshore equipment company. “We didn’t want her to go crying down the aisle. But she loved it.”
Bella’s mum Natalie, who is also 29, admitted to shedding a tear at the sight of her daughter laughing as she made her way up the aisle, together with the smiles that spread throughout the congregation.
The Upsee was invented by Debby Elnatan to help her son Rotem, who has cerebral palsy, and was launched only last month. It includes a harness which attaches to a belt worn by an adult, and specially engineered sandals that allow the parent and child to step simultaneously.
Mr Luckett said the Upsee was flexible in that it allowed room for growth so Bella could continue to use it.
Bella’s story has received national exposure and the family have been amazed by the positive comments on newspaper websites.
Mr Luckett added: “We’ve had quite a bit of attention. It’s really nice to be able to raise awareness of disabled children and these sorts of things.”