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CHARITY CONVERSION FOR SIGNED EXETER CHIEFS RUGBY UNION SHIRT

The auction of a signed Exeter Chiefs rugby union shirt has raised £215 to help disabled and terminally ill children in Devon.

The online auction was the idea of local parents Rachel and Ryan Berryman whose son Reed, aged three, underwent extensive brain surgery in 2015 and now demonstrates challenging behaviours and has a visual impairment. Rising Chiefs star Max Bodily, who plays Full Back/Wing in the 2017 Aviva premiership winning team, provided the shirt for the fundraiser.

It was a way for the Berryman family, from Exeter, to say ‘thank you’ to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children which has recently helped provide a specialist bed for young Reed, to keep him safe at night.

Reed’s mum Rachel said: “The bed has changed our lives. Auctioning off the Aviva premiership winners’ signed shirt will help support other families in Devon like us.” 

Reed was diagnosed with Epilepsy in August 2014. Resistant to drug treatment, he was having upwards of 100 seizures a day. Mum Rachel explains: “His treatment took a radical step, culminating in extensive neuro surgery at 22 months old. The impact of such an operation is slowly unfolding. Although the seizures are thought to have stopped, the consequences of the extensive brain injury are emerging. With increasingly challenging behaviours and suspected ASD, he requires close and constant supervision day and night to ensure the safety of himself and his two siblings, aged four and one.” 

Reed isn’t a good sleeper, so night-times had become a major problem for the family, whether he was at home with mum, staying with dad, in respite care or during regular hospital admissions. A portable safety sleeper to provide a consistent, and safe, night-time environment was recommended.

Rachel said: “However, as we are finding with all specialist equipment, there is a hefty price tag for a number of reasons including extensive research into the products.”

The safety bed has cost £2,995. The Berrymans crowdfunded £385 towards the £2,995 piece of equipment, with Newlife providing the balance of £2,610*.

Newlife has supported 341 babies, children and young people in Devon. Right now, the charity is working with the families of a further 13 children, with equipment needs totalling £13,865. To find out more about Newlife, and how you could help disabled and terminally ill children in the county, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/devon. Alternatively, contact the Newlife Supporter Relations Team on 01543 462777 or email local@newlifecharity.co.uk.

*The £2,610 grant towards the equipment resulted from Newlife’s charity partnership with fashion store chain River Island. The profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at every one of the chain’s UK stores goes to Newlife to directly fund vital specialist equipment.

Pictured: Reed Berryman

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