Latest Newlife News


A County Down couple were taking it turns to stay awake through the night with their two year old son to ensure his safety, as he would climb and jump from the windowsill, pull over furniture and eat the wallpaper and skirting board if left unsupervised. The loan of a specialist bed from the charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has made a huge difference to their lives – but the family urgently need one of their own.

Xavier McDonagh has Autism, developmental delay and sensory difficulties. He has no awareness of danger and a high pain threshold which results in him being unable to recognise pain or injury. He is non-verbal and will eat non-food objects around his bedroom in his Kircubbin home.

After climbing out of his high street toddler bed and onto the windowsill, Xavier would try to exit through the window then jump back into his own room. He has also pulled a chest of drawers onto himself, causing injury. As he wakes regularly throughout the night, mum Julie and her wife Margaret would take it in turns to stay with him to keep him safe and minimise disruption to their other children – one-year-old Arthur James, Delilah, 7, and Britney, 12.

With no help available from statutory services, the McDonagh family contacted Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s leading charity provider of essential equipment to meet the needs of children with disabilities and terminal illness. Recognising the urgency of the situation Newlife loaned the family a travel version of the specialist bed Xavier needs which has high, soft and flexible sides which will prevent him from climbing and hurting himself. However the loan is only for a six month period while a permanent solution is sought.

Now Newlife is calling on local heroes across County Down for their help to raise the £4,784 needed for a permanent specialist bed for Xavier.

Mum Julie said: “Xavier is a happy wee fellow but his Autism means he is in his own world. It had become really bad at home. Newlife was our last hope. I was in tears when I called them. All the furniture had been removed from his bedroom so he couldn’t climb and jump as he had hurt himself on numerous occasions, but he could still climb on the windowsill and was also quietly stripping off the wallpaper and skirting board to eat – which was making him ill.

“One of us would have to be awake with him all the time before we had the loan bed, but now we know he’s safe when he wakes in the night. It has been life changing for us – the bed has made a big difference – I can’t say enough about it!”

A safe place for Xavier to be throughout the night, the low sensory environment helps him to stay calm and promotes sleep rather than play. This means the rest of the family are able to get more rest too, so everyone’s quality of life has improved. However he needs his own permanent bed to ensure his long-term safety.

Julie adds: “If the house was on fire, providing the children were ok, the bed is the first things I’d save, without a shadow of a doubt!”

If you would like to support Xavier, go to and click on the Donate button next to his story. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in County Down will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county. Any money raised above the amount needed for Xavier will be used to help other local children.

Pictured: Xavier McDonagh