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A fundraising appeal has been launched to buy a simple piece of equipment which will allow an Eastbourne girl to enjoy days out with her family.

Six-year-old Sasha Hearne, of Freshford Close, is visually impaired and unable to walk after not getting enough oxygen at birth. The Southdowns Community School pupil also has epilepsy.

Sasha and her family love the outdoors and particularly enjoy trips to theme parks and the coast.

However, Sasha’s wheelchair is very heavy with parents Tandy and Laurence often having to cut day trips short because they get tired pushing their daughter around.

The situation is particularly difficult for Laurence who has grade four arthritis in his knees and for Sasha’s siblings who want to stay out and enjoy the fun.

A powered wheelchair base would transform Sasha’s current manual chair giving the family the freedom to go out for the entire day. But statutory services will not fund the £8,256 piece of equipment.

The cost prompted the family to turn to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help. Newlife has funded 52 Equipment Grants for children in East Sussex, totalling £101,197.

Mum Tandy said: “The powered wheelchair base would make a huge difference to both Sasha and our family.

“Sasha loves going down to the seafront and watching people and everything else that is going on.

“She also really enjoys going to theme parks, she loves the rides and likes watching her brother and sisters go on the rides.

“A powered wheelchair would take the strain out of the situation and we’d be able to go on days out and not have to cut them short.

“I’ve got a bad back and can no longer push the wheelchair all day, while my husband has got arthritis in his knees. In the past we have had to cut trips short and it would be wonderful for Sasha and her brother and sister to be able to enjoy a full day.”

Mrs Hearne added it is almost impossible for most families to be able to afford specialist disability equipment.

She said: “It really is very expensive. Most families cannot afford to buy equipment that costs £8,000 and we already have so many other specialist items we need to buy.

“We are reliant on charities like Newlife Foundation and the fundraisers that support them.”

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “As cutbacks continue to bite into local authority budgets we can expect to see applications for Newlife equipment services continue to rise.

“However, as a charity we are looking increasingly to ‘local heroes’ to help us help children in individual counties – and Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of all monies donated or fundraised in East Sussex can be ring-fenced to specifically provide equipment for disabled and terminally ill children within the county boundary.”

If you would like to raise money to help fund a powered wheelchair base for Sasha, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.

Pictured: Sasha Hearne with her brother Ciaran 

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