A specialist buggy is helping a disabled two-year-old from Cannock get to nursery safely – thanks to the fabulous fundraising of Joanne and Daniel Matthews, whose own young son sadly passed away in 2014 at the age of three.
Joanne and Daniel, from Pattingham in South Staffordshire, organised a gala ball at Wolverhampton Racecourse earlier this year. With support from family, friends and local businesses the event raised £9,800 for Cannock-based Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children – and £2,842 of this has contributed towards the £3,173 specialist buggy for Harry Instone.
Little Harry has a complex condition*, with tight muscles that cause his body to be stiff and he has little awareness of danger. Mum Leah Instone says: “If it wasn’t for the buggy, we would have all sorts of difficulties getting him to nursery.”
Harry started nursery in Lichfield on September 6 – and the ‘ramp and clamp’ feature of the buggy means he can safely use specialist transport to get there from his home in Rawnsley near Cannock. Leah added: “His epilepsy and development delay mean it isn’t really safe for anyone to transport him directly in a car seat.”
She added: “Harry’s condition means he tries to bang his head a lot; he has a shunt in his head, so there is the potential for him to be seriously hurt. When he is secured in the fully padded buggy he can’t do himself any harm, which means we have peace of mind.”
The buggy also helps his parents get him out and about. Leah said: “This buggy gives him all the specialist postural support he needs, to help offset further health issues. We struggle to get him in a high chair because of the stiffness of his body so it is wonderful that this buggy is just the right height to pull up to a table for a meal if we are out, so he can be with us and his six-year-old sister.
“The same week we received the buggy Harry began a movement training programme at Oswestry Hospital. The two combined have transformed his day to day progress.”
Harry’s family turned to Newlife after being put on a long waiting list for help by their local statutory services. “We still haven’t received any correspondence from them,” said Leah, who added: “In contrast, from the time of applying to Newlife to receiving the equipment was about three weeks. The charity has been amazing.”
Fundraisers Joanne and Daniel Matthews know all about Newlife’s quick response to difficult situations. Newlife provided essential equipment for their son Wilf, who has born with an extremely rare genetic disorder which affected his skeletal development and consequently his breathing.
Joanne said: “Newlife provided us, at very short notice, with a specialist buggy to carry Wilf and all of his life-saving equipment. This made a huge difference to us at the time.”
She added: “We know there are other families who have to deal with similar circumstances to ours and we are delighted to know that our Big Red Bus Ball – named after Wilf’s favourite nursery rhyme ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ – is helping to make a difference.”
*Harry’s condition includes Hydrocephalus, Epilepsy, Global Development Delay and a visual impairment. He is sensitive to noise and sunlight.
Pictured: Harry Instone in his new buggy.