Car journeys with six-year-old William Emmons were ‘a nightmare’ for mum Julie. William has autism – and, because of his condition, absolutely no awareness of danger. He becomes very anxious when he is in the car and would regularly undo his car seat and try to get out of the vehicle while it was moving.
Now a specialist car seat from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – provided with funding from Lincolnshire firefighters – ensures William is safe and Julie has peace of mind.
This summer (July), Clive Baillie, aged 53, and his 43-year-old Watch Manager Kyle Campbell, who are based at Grantham fire station, completed a 450-mile cycle ride between the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales – climbing the three formidable peaks while they were there – to raise £5,830 to specifically help disabled children in Lincolnshire. Every penny is being used to provide specialist equipment.
For Clive, from Grantham, it was a way of giving something back to Newlife which has supported his son Jake, who has Autistic Spectrum Disorder resulting in challenging behaviours. Clive said: “As members of Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue, we recognise the importance of road safety so we are particularly pleased to hear that some of our fundraising has been spent in helping to keep William safe when he is out in the car.”
Mum Julie says William, from Spalding, gets anxious when he is in the car, especially if he doesn’t recognise the route. Julie said: “The journey that really scared me was when we were driving home from Peterborough and he managed to get out of the car seat, roll down the back window and grab the door handle from the outside. I had to quickly stop and put him back in his seat – then I drove straight to a garage and had the internal window handles removed.”
Local statutory services are not legally obliged to provide specialist car seats for children with disabilities, so Julie ended up taking William all the way to Milton Keynes for an assessment of his needs. "Specialist seats are expensive – William’s was £764 – but the assessment centre told me about Newlife, which helps families like us.”
She added: “Within two weeks of applying to Newlife for help, the new car seat was delivered. Journeys are much safer now. William is secure in the seat, which is very comfortable for him, and he is actually much happier in it. He’s not as anxious during car journeys – and neither am I!
“This is the first time we have asked an organisation like Newlife for help for William – and we are very grateful for their support. It has made such a big difference.”