A Cumbrian teenager with severe Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy needs a special wheelchair to give him the support he needs to keep him comfortable, while being tough enough to handle the varied terrain around his rural home. Having the right wheelchair means he could spend quality time with his family and enjoy being outside with his Collie dog, Wilf.
Matthew Wardle, aged 14 and his twin brother Jack live with their parents, Val and Jol on a farm in the village of Cark-in-Cartmel, in Grange over Sands, which is a quiet seaside retreat located between mountains and the sea. However, the idyllic surroundings means it is a real struggle to push Matthew in a standard wheelchair as the local terrain is just too rugged and uneven.
Although Matthew has a wheelchair from Statutory Services which he uses for school, it’s too bulky to be easily manoeuvred and it can only cope with flat, even surfaces. Outside of school the teenager was using an alternative lighter wheelchair which allowed him to get around his home village and local town with ease. However, after having it for four years he has now outgrown this and life has become more restrictive.
Matthew’s condition means he is unable to do anything for himself, so he is hoisted for all transfers and needs 24-hour postural management and as both his hips are dislocated he requires careful handling and positioning to avoid painful muscles spasms. He is fed through a tube, doesn’t communicate verbally, has Epilepsy, learning difficulties and is registered blind – although he has some sight.
Mum Val said: “Matthew was born three months prematurely and as a result he has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, which means both his arms and legs are affected so he can’t do anything for himself. He loves being outside and right in the middle of everything going on, but this is a struggle in our rural area. He needs a new wheelchair which can be pushed easily.”
However, as the equipment costs almost £3,500, this is beyond the family budget, so they turned to 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. Now the charity is hoping ‘local heroes’ will step forward to help fund the wheelchair Matthew needs to give him the right support, keep him comfortable and allow him to get out and about in his local community – and enjoy the simple pleasure of taking the dog for a walk through the countryside with his family.
Mum Val said: “Having a wheelchair he could use outside of school would really improve life for us all. Matthew and his brother Jack have an amazing bond. Jack can make Matthew laugh far more than anyone else can and he loves to push him in his wheelchair. Matthew would be so much happier and comfier in the new wheelchair he needs and the handles are adjustable so Jack could push him. It would allow us all to go out together easily so Matthew could be much more involved.”
If you would like to help Matthew, visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cumbria, read his story and click the ‘Donate Now’ button. Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to help Matthew will be used to fund the wheelchair. Any surplus funding will help provide equipment for other disabled children in the county as Matthew is one of two families in Cumbria with equipment needs of £17,601 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: Matthew Wardle