In 2016, little Theo Clennon from Warrington had surgery to remove a brain tumour. This has been followed by months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a life-saving stem cell transplant – but his daily journeys to hospital and clinic appointments put him at risk because he didn’t have the right equipment to support his head.
The three-year-old (four on September 21) desperately needed a specialist car seat with additional supports and padding to prevent his head from flopping forward, putting pressure on the area at the top of his spine where the tumour was removed. Statutory services do not have a legal obligation to provide this, often expensive, equipment – so Theo’s mum Natalie Hayward turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help.
Natalie said: “Theo may not have long to live, so we are very fortunate that he is offered lots of help from charities – this can sometimes mean travelling over 30 miles to sleep therapists or hydrotherapy facilities. The help I get is essential to Theo’s improvement, physically and mentally, but travelling in the car every day becomes challenging without the correct equipment and a specialist car seat is vital. Theo's new car seat from Newlife not only keeps him safe so he can enjoy these activities but it helps us make memories to treasure.”
Natalie was also helped by the Brian Kennedy Trust which contributed almost £370 towards the equipment, with Newlife – supported by fashion retail chain River Island – finding the remaining £1,472 needed. Newlife – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – receives River Island’s carrier bag levy funding. This ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative has funded around £600,000 of vital equipment for disabled children across the UK.
Natalie said: “We are out in the car almost every day for medical appointments of one sort or another . . . with the occupational therapist, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy and check-ups and tests at hospital. Theo is definitely a lot safer now while we are travelling and the car seat also has a swivel base, which makes it easier for me to get him in and out without the risk of banging his head."