A Wakefield teenager with Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and a ‘magnificent smile’ only has his moulded wheelchair to sit in at home – and urgently needs a special seat to help him enjoy the simple pleasure of relaxing with his family in comfort and safety.
Harry Smith aged 13 lives in the Alverthorpe area of the city with his mum Beverley, dad David and his 21-year-old sister Emily. As well as a type of Cerebral Palsy which affects both his arms and legs, Harry has profound physical difficulties and no head control, so he needs lots of postural support to keep his body in just the right position.
Harry also has learning difficulties, epilepsy, is partially sighted, doesn’t speak and is fed via a tube. He has frequent chest infections and his breathing has recently deteriorated so he now needs oxygen at night.
At home the only place Harry can sit is in his wheelchair, which is straight backed, hard and rigid. However, a special comfy but supportive seat would mean he could relax while receiving the vital support he needs. The seat’s mobile base would also ensure he could be easily moved so he wouldn’t miss out on any family fun.
Mum Beverley said: “Harry is totally reliant on us. He has a magnificent smile and he likes being out and about and watching TV. If he doesn’t like something he will just shut his eyes, but he knows if you are talking about him as he will listen intently. He can also really turn on the charm!
“One of his arms in now turned in and is depressing his chest, making it concave, so a special seat would help keep him more comfortable. We also have quite a small living room and it’s difficult to get the wheelchair in there as well as everyone else as it’s quite big and bulky. With a proper seat for Harry we would all be able to spend time together properly.”
However, with no funding available from their local Statutory Services for the equipment, Harry’s parents turned to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness for help to fund the £1,597 seat.
Beverley added: “The seat would help us feel more at home as a family and I wouldn’t worry as much as I do about Harry. He’s 5ft 8ins now so I can’t get him on and off the floor easily to play, so the special chair would give him an alternative to his wheelchair or bed.
“It would also make Harry the same height as everyone else, so he could see the TV properly, interact with us better and it would be more comfortable for him when I read him a story.”
With applications to Newlife up on last year, the charity is increasingly looking to ‘local heroes’ to help fund vital equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in their own counties.
If you would like to help Harry, visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/westyorkshire read his story and click the ‘Donate Now’ button. For further information about how you can support families in South Yorkshire, contact Newlife’s Regional Fundraising and Awareness Manager for Yorkshire, Caroline Artschan, on 07534 491 933 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to help Harry will be used to fund his special seat. Any surplus funding will help provide equipment for other disabled children in the county as Harry is one of 25 families in West Yorkshire currently working with the charity.
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: https://newlifecharity.co.uk
Pictured: Harry Smith