Twins defy the odds to attend school in Whiteley together

Mike Smith and his wife Haanagh Smith, from Whiteley, with their two disabled twin sons Zach (right), and Reuben, four, and their eldest son Harry, 10. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142579-2)
Mike Smith and his wife Haanagh Smith, from Whiteley, with their two disabled twin sons Zach (right), and Reuben, four, and their eldest son Harry, 10. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (142579-2)
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IT WAS sight they thought they would never see – three boys all smartly dressed in matching green uniforms and heading off to the same school.

For the Smith family, life has been a rollercoaster ever since twins Reuben and Zach were born prematurely at 29 weeks.

Both had complex medical disabilities – Reuben was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy and Zach is severely deaf, has a spine disorder and also has cerebral palsy.

The family is holding a fundraiser today to say thank you to the community and two charities – the Rainbow Centre and Elizabeth Foundation – that helped the boys get to where they are now.

Mum Haanagh, 36, said: ‘They are proving everybody wrong. I feel so pleased to be able to give back to the people who believed in them.’

The twins, now four, started at Whiteley Primary School in September, which older brother Harry, 10, also goes to.

Reuben still spends two days a week at the Rainbow Centre, a charity that supports children with cerebral palsy, in Fareham.

Zachary went to the Elizabeth Foundation in Portsmouth, a charity that supports infants and pre-school children with hearing loss but is in school full-time.

Haanagh said: ‘Both of those charities really prepared them so well for school so it is going very well. That has been helped by the school being so welcoming.

‘Medically it is still challenging but we are getting on in terms of day-to-day life.

‘The boys love being together and bumping into each other in the playground. It is such a joy.

‘I never thought I would see that day. I was so emotional.’

The family, including dad Mike, appeared on BBC show DIY SOS two years ago after a friend contacted the show.

Presenter Nick Knowles and his crew took over their home in Saffron Way, Whiteley, and transformed it into a house suitable for the family of five.

Scores of people and business from in the community volunteered their time to transform the house.

Haanagh said people who supported them through the show are coming to the ball.

She said the ball sold out within two days and that she was looking forward to the event, which will take place at the Solent Hotel in Whiteley on Saturday.

Around 150 people will attend the three-course dinner and dance. Cash will go to the charities and pay for the boys’ therapy.