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EMERGENCY WHEELCHAIR LOAN IS A RAY OF SUNSHINE FOR GRACE

Little Grace Meager from Helmshore is one of six Lancashire children currently being supported by a charity’s emergency equipment loan services . . . 

The emergency loan of a hi-tech wheelchair meant five-year-old Grace Meager from Helmshore in Lancashire was able to make the most of her school summer holidays.

Grace, who was born prematurely, has Cerebral Palsy, scoliosis and a brain condition which affects motor control. As a result she relies on a wheelchair for mobility but isn’t able to sit comfortably in a standard model for more than a couple of hours at a time.

Mum Katrina Meager said: “The wheelchair she had before got her to and from school (Holly Grove) in Burnley – but that was about it. It was difficult for Grace to get out and about because she was far too uncomfortable – and the equipment was too bulky for her father and I to manoeuvre very far.”

A chance conversation with another family at Alder Hey Hospital, where Grace has regular appointments, led to the Meagers finding out about a hi-tech wheelchair which is both comfortable and lightweight. With the equipment priced at a daunting £2,666, the family turned to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help.

Last year (2013/14) Newlife awarded 1,303 Equipment Grants across the UK, totalling £2,088,105 – 85 of these were in Lancashire (£86,649).

In addition, Newlife provides emergency equipment loans for those in particularly urgent need. Grace is one of six children in the county currently being supported through Newlife’s emergency equipment provision services.

Just Can’t Wait (JCW) offers loans of specialist wheelchairs, buggies, beds, seating and portable hoists to families of terminally ill and life-limited children – aiming to deliver the equipment within 72 hours.

Grace received her specialist wheelchair through JCW at the beginning of the school summer holidays and says mum Katrina: “It has meant we have been able to do so many things that would otherwise have been impossible. For instance, we had a fabulous day out at Chester Zoo; that would have been unthinkable before.

“The wheelchair really supports Grace’s postural needs – I have never seen her sit so well. The one thing that everyone who has met Grace this summer has said is that you see Grace and not the wheelchair. That means so much to us.

“Grace’s life is incredibly difficult but her main love is being outside and exploring; this wheelchair has given her that opportunity. Now she has returned to school using the wheelchair, so is able to join in much more.”

Newlife is currently working with local statutory services to secure provision of this equipment through public funding; if this is not possible, Newlife will look to make permanent provision through an Equipment Grant.

Demand across Lancashire for all of Newlife’s services has risen sharply over the last year, so the charity has appointed a regional Awareness and Fundraising Manager to help ensure continued support for families of disabled and terminally ill children in the county.

David Reeves joined the charity last month and said: “What attracted me to Newlife Foundation is the guarantee that 100 per cent of all funds donated or raised go directly to buy specialist equipment for children in need. People can designate which county their money is used in and because of the charity’s transparent accountability I can tell everyone exactly how their funds have been spent.”

David is keen to hear from any local individuals, social and community groups or business organisations which might consider supporting Newlife Foundation in Lancashire, either through fundraising or volunteering activities. He can be contacted on 07854 425 273 or by emailing [email protected].

Pictured: Grace Meager & her Dad, Steve

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