A 12-year-old schoolboy is hiking the 102 miles of the Cotswold Way this week to raise money to help fund a specialist walker for Bristol teenager Marchant Barron.
Marchant is an A-level student at Bristol Grammar, where he takes an active role in school life thanks to provision of a sit-to-stand wheelchair by leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation. Marchant has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy; he experiences seizures and painful muscle spasms.
Using the hi-tech wheelchair over the past three years has helped strengthen the muscles in his legs and Marchant now needs a specialist walker so he can take the next step – quite literally.
Marchant has already trialled the equipment he needs – to complete the last 100 metres of the Bristol 10k Run in May this year. He took part in the event using a manual wheelchair, accompanied by two friends, to raise £928 for Newlife, towards the cost of the walker.
Having the equipment would mean he could fulfil his own mobility dreams. But the walker will cost £2,715, which prompted his family to turn to Newlife again for help with funding.
Mum Sue Pringle said: “Ever since he could communicate, Marchant has wanted his independence. He cannot operate a wheelchair but he has already demonstrated he can use a walker. It would boost his confidence no end to be able to walk around his sixth form block.”
She added: “He is determined that, once he has the equipment, he is going to walk the whole of the Bristol 10k next year. That would be the equivalent of any one of us climbing Everest!”
Twelve-year-old Harry Vincent is a Newlife supporter, having already raised around £1,000 for the charity over the past two years by tackling sponsored walks of the highest mountains in England (Scafell Pike) and Scotland (Ben Nevis).
This year, he decided to walk the Cotswold Way and set out from Gloucestershire yesterday (Sunday 7 July); he hopes to complete the trek, accompanied by his father, in Bath on Thursday – to raise around £500.
Harry, who lives in the West Midlands where he is a pupil at Old Swinford Hospital School, said: “I love to go walking and thought it would be a good idea to use the money I hope to raise this week to help someone else get the opportunity to walk. It’s a bit of a trek so I’ve got my fingers crossed that we don’t have any injuries; the weather is going to be hotter than we expected so that could slow us down – I just we can complete it as planned on Thursday.”
If you would like to help Harry and Newlife’s fundraising efforts for Marchant, you can call the charity’s Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.
In total, the charity has provided £87,756 of specialist equipment for 68 children in the Bristol area. However, demand on Newlife resources has shot up as families of disabled and terminally ill children are hit by cutbacks across statutory services. Therefore, the charity is appealing for ‘local heroes’ to come forward to fundraise or donate towards the cost of equipment for children in their areas.
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown said: “Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any gift or donation will go directly to provide Marchant with the equipment he needs. Any money raised surplus to his requirements will be used to fund equipment for other disabled and terminally ill children in the area.”
To find out more about the range of Newlife services, which are all free of charge, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – freephone 0800 902 0095 – or go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk
Pictured: Marchant Barron.