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Happy Birthday from the stars: Disabled teenager bowled over by celebrity tributes

Callum Marshall, who has just turned 18 years old (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)
Callum Marshall, who has just turned 18 years old (Andrew Cawley / DC Thomson)

Callum Marshall was amazed when he was presented with a book containing snaps of the Rangers hero Nacho Novo, the team’s former manager Alex McLeish and members of the Still Game cast for his birthday.

Braehead Clan ice hockey team, golfer Stephen Gallacher, Jacoby Shaddix, lead singer of US rock  band Papa Roach, and the rock band Black Stone Cherry also sent snaps of them holding up birthday messages to delighted cerebral palsy sufferer Callum.

The special milestone marker was dreamt up by parents Alex and Heather Strachan.

“When Callum was born we didn’t know if he was going to survive,” said Heather, who said that the odds had always been stacked against him.

But Callum, who turned 18 on February 7 and is pictured here enjoying his cake and balloons, has been proving people wrong his whole life.

“He’s doing fantastically,” added mum.

He uses splints to walk and gets tired very easily but Callum goes to college and volunteers his services helping out other youngsters with disabilities to do sports.

As his birthday began to loom, dad Alex knew he was going to have to think outside of the box for a present, as his step-son “doesn’t appreciate material things as much as other teenagers”.

“Turning 18 is something we never thought Callum would achieve,” said Alex, 44, who spent weeks asking Callum’s favourite celebrities to write a sign wishing the teenager a happy birthday.

The pictured responses flew in, with Scottish sports stars, musicians and actors sending in snaps of them holding signs wishing him a happy birthday.

“I thought I’d get 20 to 30 pictures,” said Alex, who added that “the response has been phenomenal” and that he’d been sent more than 60 photos.

Callum, from East Renfrewshire, celebrated his newfound adulthood with a James Bond-themed party, complete with a casino.

His mum said he was thrilled with the gift. “He was confused at first and asked ‘how did you do that?’”.

Alex, who met Callum’s mum 11 years ago, said that his step-son had seizures throughout the first year of his life and that he still suffers from epilepsy.

But now, Callum is completing cookery qualifications at a college in South Lanarkshire, despite his school teachers telling him he wouldn’t pass his English exams. He has done a safeguarding course and a first-aid course, thanks in part to the support from his mum “he takes a bit of encouragement but he enjoys it”.

“He gets his strength from his mother, because as far as she’s concerned, ‘can’t’ isn’t a word,” said Alex.


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