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With an infectious laugh and a wicked sense of humour, 15-year-old Declan Copeland loves to be a part of everything, especially if it means he can get into mischief – but without a lightweight wheelchair he could propel himself in he didn’t have the independence and freedom needed to safely enjoy life to the full.

Declan, from Biddulph in Stoke-on-Trent, has Angelman Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder affecting the nervous system. As a result he has epilepsy and development delay and needs to use a wheelchair to get around outside the family home. But his old wheelchair was too heavy to self-propel, so it was always down to mum Sarah Singh to push Declan around.

Now, thanks to local heroes who responded to an appeal by Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, Declan has a lightweight wheelchair he can self-propel and is happily whizzing about, without having to ask any of his doting family for help.

Over 20 local people and businesses donated towards the £3,591 wheelchair for Declan, including £1,000 from Midland Expressway Limited, operators of the M6 Toll.

Mum Sarah Singh said: “This wheelchair is absolutely fantastic and Declan loves it. He loves having the independence to decide to wheel himself over to take a closer look at something or just grab what he wants. He can get into the fridge now and help himself, which is something he couldn’t do before, so I’m ending up with cheese and burst yoghurts everywhere - but I don’t mind a bit, I love it that he has the independence to do that now!”

And if Declan is too tired, mum Sarah can still take over. “This wheelchair is so light I can push it for far longer than I could some of his other wheelchairs. I can even pick it up and carry it, so we can go to more places than ever before – even places which have steps. We recently went on holiday to North Wales and Declan was able to go on the beach for the first time – we could never have done that in a million years with his old wheelchair – Declan thought it was ace and just kept wanting to touch the sand.”

Sarah added: “Having this wheelchair has made a massive difference, Declan has his freedom and it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities for him. I can’t thank Newlife and everyone who has donated towards this enough. There is no way an average family like us could ever have come up with the funds for this.”

Newlife has helped 1,023 families in Staffordshire. To find out more about how Newlife supports local children, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/staffordshire.

Right now, the charity has 29 families in the county and needs to fund £44,861 of equipment to help them. You can do this by donating through the website or, alternatively, contact the Newlife Supporter Relations Team on 01543 462777 or email local@newlifecharity.co.uk.

Newlife’s Head of Charity Operations Stephen Morgan said: “It’s great we could help Declan, but now we need to find funds to help the other Staffordshire children. So we are appealing to individuals, groups, clubs and companies to help us help them. To find out how you can help a local disabled child go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/staffordshire. Alternatively, contact Suzie on 01543 462777 or email local@newlifecharity.co.uk.


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