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A STRETCH IN TIME FOR KEEN CRAFTER ABBY, AGED SEVEN

Seven-year-old Abby Paris will soon be ‘sitting pretty’ at home, thanks to the donation of a specialist postural seat from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.

Abby, from Maddiston near Falkirk, has a form of Cerebral Palsy which results in tense muscles and spasms; over time, this causes joints to stiffen, reducing mobility. Good posture is vital to help reduce the onset of long-term health issues, and to help her at school Abby has a specialist ‘saddle’ seat.

Mum Gayle Paris said: “The chair helps her maintain a good posture without her having to concentrate on it. It puts her body in the position it should be, leaving Abby to be able to concentrate better on her school work.”

Local statutory services will not provide a second saddle seat for use at home – and the cost of £1,121 prompted the family to contact Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Gayle said: “Having another chair to use at home means that in the long term Abby will have fewer problems with her hips, back and shoulders. If her posture goes unchecked it could result in unpleasant surgery.” Abby is a keen crafter, and spends hours sewing and creating gel art pictures, so the special seat will support her during these activities.

Gayle added: “Abby has some issues with the muscles in her legs not being stretched. We have had to strap her into a standing frame for an hour a day to help counteract this. The saddle seat does away with the need for the standing frame, which is a big relief to us all.”

A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the new seating. M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Cannock and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities.

In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £630,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK.

Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife Foundation, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife has helped provide £28,761 of equipment for 17 under-19s in the Falkirk area. Right now, the charity is currently working with another nine families in the county with equipment needs totalling £13,592.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Falkirk go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/falkirk. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the county.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Falkirk will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Abby Paris

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