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A £750 piece of specialist disability equipment is all that stands between two-year-old Reilly McCarthy and being able to travel in safety.

Reilly, from Torrisholme in Lancaster, has Cerebral Palsy which has left him with poor trunk control and difficulty controlling his movements. Which is why he needs a specialist car seat to keep him upright and help maintain his posture during trips to hospital and clinic appointments, to nursery and on long journeys to visit family in Cumbria and Shropshire.

With no local statutory funding available, Reilly’s mum Justine McCarthy turned to Newlife Foundation – the UK’s largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – for help.

Newlife is the largest single provider of specialist car seats in the UK, having invested more than £1.6million in the safety of disabled and terminally ill children. This is because local authorities do not have a statutory obligation to supply this equipment; instead, families can apply for a medical exemption certificate which allows their children to be transported unsecured.

However, Newlife believes that the safety of disabled children is as important as the in-vehicle security of able-bodied youngsters and is currently campaigning for a change in the law. In the meantime, the charity continues to support families through provision.

Justine said: “Reilly is the size of a four-year-old so his standard car seat is not really big enough for him and it does not offer the extra support he needs. A specialist car seat – with a swivel base to help me get him in and out of the car – is what Reilly needs for safety and what I need to help prevent further back problems.”

She explained: “Recently I was putting Reilly in the car when my back seized up and all I could do was put him on the floor because I just couldn’t move. I had to shout for my next-door neighbour to come and help.”

Newlife has already supported 365 children in Lancashire through provision of items like wheelchairs, specialist beds and car seats, walking frames, stair climbers, portable hoists and communication aids costing £455,885. But with the number of applications rising fast, the charity is increasingly looking to ‘local heroes’ to help fundraise and donate to support children in the county like Reilly.

To help with this, Newlife has appointed Lancashire mum Christine Anderson to the post of Fundraising and Awareness Manager for the county. Christine, who is working with local volunteers, said: “Every penny fundraised or donated in Lancashire can be restricted to be spent specifically in the county, encouraging local people to support local children.”

To find out how you can help Newlife to help children with disabilities and terminal illness in Lancashire, go to: If you would like to support Reilly, go to this website and click on the ‘Donate Now’ button.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of the money donated to help Reilly will be used to fund his specialist car seat. Any surplus funding will help provide equipment for other children in Lancashire – Reilly is one of five children in the county currently needing specialist support, at a cost of £22,668. The ‘Newlife guarantee’ is possible because the charity operates a successful recycling and retail business, the profits of which underwrite core costs, including administration.

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: To contact Christine Anderson, call 0796 102 8501 or email

Pictured: Reilly McCarthy