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CAN YOU HELP TEENAGER CHARLIE REGAIN SOME FREEDOM?

For Charlie Welsh, aged 11, from Winsford, the last three years have been a testament to his courage in the face of adversity. Illness and an accident saw his life change out of all recognition as he became reliant on a wheelchair to get around and developed OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome. However, a standing frame could help give him back some of the freedom and independence he has lost.

Due to the £2,781 cost of the equipment, Charlie’s mum, Angela, contacted Newlife Charity for Disabled Children for help – Newlife is the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. The charity is now calling on local heroes to come forward to help fund the equipment which would help Charlie mobilise without help, change his position to stop him being uncomfortable and once more let him look others in the eye when he speaks to them.

If you would like to support Charlie in getting his equipment, go to www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cheshire and click on the Donate button next to his story. Any funds raised above the amount needed for Charlie’s standing frame will be used to help other children in Cheshire as he is currently one of 22 children with equipment needs of £46,900 in the county.

Angela said: “In 2014, when Charlie was eight he was diagnosed with scarlet fever and then Kawasaki disease, which causes fever and a rash, all within a few weeks. This triggered a condition called PANDAS which causes the sudden onset of OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome and his own antibodies to attack his immune system. A few weeks later, during a playground game, he fell forward and head-butted play equipment, leaving him with an acquired brain injury.

“Charlie hasn’t walked since then. He uses a wheelchair to go outside and at home he crawls. It’s hard, it feels like I have lost the child I once had. He has a great personality and he deals with it all well, even with everything that has happened he is still happy-go-lucky; but we don’t know what the future holds.

“He is on long-term antibiotics because of the risk of further infection and he has had a lot of physio, but he can’t weight bear. His physiotherapist suggested a standing frame would really benefit him, and he was recently able to try one. To see him stand for the first time in three years was so emotional for me – and the grin on his face was just amazing.

“If Charlie could have a standing frame of his own he would be able to get used to weight bearing again and maybe even take a few steps. At the moment he’s isolated, but a standing frame would increase his confidence, his general health and help him socially too as it would be easier for him to talk to others if he’s standing up.”

Charlie has joined a gymnastic team for those with disabilities and won an outstanding seven gold medals in his first competition. He now hopes having the standing frame will help him do much more in life.

He added: “With a standing frame I could maybe walk, if I practiced. I could also go out with my friends and play more sports.”

Newlife is currently receiving more Equipment Grant applications than at any time in its 25-year history, which is why public support is needed to help families caring for disabled and terminally ill children in Cheshire.

The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/cheshire includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the area. One hundred per cent of all fundraising/donations in Cheshire will go directly towards providing equipment for children in the county; nothing is taken out for administration.

If you would like more information about fundraising in Cheshire, please contact the Regional Fundraising and Awareness Manager Claire Kelly on 07494 490 561 or email [email protected].

Pictured: Charlie Welsh

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