An appeal launched by a grieving Devon family to help provide specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the county has seen its first success.
The Allen family – mum and dad Nicky and Nick and children Josh, Lauryn and Kasey – from Hemyock have spearheaded a fundraising campaign for Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children in memory of 18-year-old Sam who passed away this summer after courageously battling cancer for nearly four years.
‘Sam’s Legacy’ aims to help raise the £40,000 needed each year so Newlife Foundation can continue to support families of disabled children in Devon*.
Little Madeline Bell, from nearby Willand near Cullompton, is the first child to benefit from Sam’s Legacy. She has been provided with a specialist wheelchair so she is safe and comfortable when she is out with her family.
Madeline, who is 18 months old, has Cerebral Palsy, is visually impaired and profoundly deaf. She has poor muscle tone and is unable to sit unaided.
Mum Kayleigh Bell said: “Maddie was in a standard child’s buggy but it didn’t provide any support for her so she was very uncomfortable. In the last few months she just wouldn’t go in it at all so we had to carry her everywhere. We have a three-year-old son, Oliver, so the pre-school run was a nightmare.”
Kayleigh found out about Newlife Foundation through a local family forum. She contacted the charity after statutory services offered her a voucher for just £937 towards the £3,349 specialist wheelchair. She said: “When I called Newlife I had a nice chat with one of the charity’s nurses and was able to progress most of the application over the phone. I just had a couple of pieces of paperwork. Newlife turned around the application really quickly.”
She added: “The wheelchair is brilliant. It is really supportive for Maddie, with body, under-arm and head supports and safety straps so she can sit up and be more aware of what is going on around her. It also reclines so that if she needs to sleep it’s not a problem. It’s a very modern piece of equipment and not at all how you would perceive a wheelchair to look.”
Delighted at this first success, Nicky Allen said: “This is wonderful news.”
The Allen family will be holding a Sam’s Legacy fundraising coffee morning at their home at 20 Station Road, Hemyock, between 10am and 1pm on Saturday 29 November. Click Here to read more.
Nicky Allen said: “Family, friends and local organisations have been extremely generous in donating a host of draw prizes for the event. We have vouchers for meals at local restaurants, Exeter City Football Club goodies, an overnight stay at a B&B and loads of other wonderful prizes. We want to raise as much money as possible to make Sam proud. Everyone is welcome.”
* Sam Allen was first diagnosed with bone cancer when he was 14. After chemotherapy treatment failed, he underwent an operation to have his left leg amputated above the knee.
He remained cancer free until March 2012 when a routine scan found a tumour on his lung, which was removed through successful chemotherapy treatment and surgery. However, the cancer was to return twice more – in October 2013, which was treated with surgery to remove the tumour, and then again in January this year (2014), when Sam could feel severe pain in his joints. A tumour was again discovered on his lung, with doctors confirming its size meant nothing more could be done.
With Sam getting weaker, parents Nicky and Nick contacted Newlife Foundation to ask for help in providing a mobility scooter so he could still get around and spend time with his friends, enjoying his final months.
The equipment was provided through Newlife’s Just Can’t Wait service which aims to deliver emergency equipment including wheelchairs, buggies, beds and seating to the homes of life-limited and terminally ill children within 72 hours.
Nicky Allen said: “The scooter was absolutely amazing. Sam was using it within an hour of its arrival and the grin on his face was worth millions to us. The independence it gave him was immense. All the things other people take for granted were suddenly given back to him.
“Sam was 17 when we were told there was no more that could be done for him so he went from being a relatively independent young man to being totally dependent on someone pushing him around.
“Having the scooter gave him back some of his independence, privacy and dignity. It gave him a level of control over where he went, something we couldn’t give him. I suppose in a nutshell it made him feel more normal.”
To view the family’s story, go to: http://youtu.be/UTIBW_jhj0c
For more information about ‘Sam’s Legacy’, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/sam
Pictured: Madeline Bell & her brother Oliver
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