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A specialist mobile hoist is making life much easier for a Leicester 12-year-old who is visually impaired, has brain damage and no independent movement, as it means he can be easily lifted and transferred so he is able to go out and about with his mum and be kept comfortable.

Donovan Elson was born with Neuronal Migration Disorder, which is often characterised by weak and floppy muscles, seizures and developmental difficulties; but when he was five years old a two-hour seizure left him on life support. He was put into an induced coma for two weeks to help him recover, but when he woke he had brain damage.

Although Donovan needs the same level of care as a new-born, at 12 he is getting taller and has become impossibly heavy for his mum, Donna Elson, to lift, leaving the pair restricted as to where and how far they can go from their Braunstone Park home. However, Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – has provided a £2,095 mobile hoist.

Donna contacted Newlife for help with the hoist as the charity has previously provided a power pack for Donovan’s wheelchair, which had become difficult for her to push.

Donna said: “Donovan’s occupational therapist first put me in touch with Newlife and they have been magic – both applications were dealt with pretty quickly.

“The mobile hoist will help a lot, without it we would just be stuck. We need a hoist for everything – everywhere we go – even just to make sure Donovan can change position in his wheelchair while we are out so he is comfortable.

“I try to let Donovan lead as normal a life as much as possible, but he’s getting bigger and it’s impossible for me to lift him on my own now, so it’s difficult to go out. With this hoist though, it will be completely possible. Not only will it make everyday life easier, it means we can go for day trips and go to Skegness to stay with my parents, especially as my mum is ill and I need to go regularly.

“Having it is a relief!”

Newlife has provided the mobile hoist with funding support from Central England Co-operative. Newlife has been its staff-elected charity since 2012 and colleagues and customers have raised £1.2million which has in turn helped to fund specialist equipment – like wheelchairs and walking frames, portable hoists and communication aids – for 572 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Darren Robinson, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s Aikman Avenue store in Leicester, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like Donovan.”

Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision (this is the service which is supporting the Garner family); Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or life-limiting illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories.

The charity has supported 439 children in Leicestershire with £442,204 of equipment. Right now, Newlife is working with a further 21 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £19,490.

To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: Donovan Elson