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A simple piece of specialist equipment means six-year-old Fern Harrison is able to get out and about more easily this summer to enjoy the great outdoors with her sisters and cousins.

Fabulous local fundraisers – Dorset Moose Ladies – have helped Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children provide a special needs buggy for Fern, who lives in Poole. Newlife National Head of Fundraising Michael Bolton said: “We would like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all the lovely ladies whose hard work and dedication helped Fern get this vital piece of equipment to support her in her everyday life.”

Fern has Alexander Disease, a rare degenerative condition that affects the nerves in her brain and spinal cord. Over time, this causes loss of skills such as walking, talking and swallowing. She is able to walk short distances only, but has difficulty balancing and tires easily especially if she has had a seizure. Fern uses a wheelchair for school, but, says mum Nicola Horne, it can’t be pushed over anything except hard surfaces – and the family lives in a rural area.

Nicola said: “The wheelchair isn’t very user friendly. It’s just what Fern needs for school, but as a family – she has two older sisters – we like to get outdoors. Days out with Fern in the pushchair, with its all-terrain tyres, are now much easier – and the fact that it can be pushed over grass and along woodland paths, which the wheelchair couldn’t, means she can now go where everyone else goes and be a part of everything.

“It is really brilliant and Fern loves the fact that she can do so much more now, like helping to take our dogs for a walk. The buggy is so light and manoeuvreable that I can push it with one hand and hold onto the dogs with the other.”

The buggy that is best suited to give Fern the postural support she needs – she is developing scoliosis – cost £2,201. With no funding available from statutory services, the family turned to Newlife for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

The charity has helped provide £152,655 of specialist equipment for 117 disabled children in Dorset. Right now, Newlife is working with a further five families with equipment needs totalling £7,582. To find out how you can help, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team on tel no 01543 431 444 or email 100 per cent of all money fundraised or donated in Dorset will be used to support children in the county.

For full details of Newlife Foundation’s range of practical support for disabled and terminally ill children and their families, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) – or go to:

Pictured: Fern Harrison