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A charity partnership supported by Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce is already making an impact on the lives of disabled and terminally ill children in South Yorkshire.

The Chamber has chosen Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children as its ‘Charity of the Year’ and an initial award of £3,000 is now helping two children – one in Rotherham and the other in Doncaster – get the specialist equipment they urgently need.

Five-year-old Lucas Rodermond, from New Edlington in Doncaster, has Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy and Global Development Delay. Night-times are currently a nightmare for his family because he experiences seizures and, a poor sleeper, he frequently gets up and walks around the house, climbing over stair gates and on furniture.

Mum Kim Rodermond explains: “Lucas’s seizures mean he can, and has, hurt himself on the side of his bed. He also gets up about 20 times a night; he has no awareness of danger and that, combined with his seizures and sleepwalking, poses a serious safety risk for him. We have stair gates, but he can climb over these; he likes to be physical so he will also climb on windowsills and wardrobes – but then he falls because his balance is poor. Because of this we have had to put a fabric wardrobe in his bedroom so he can’t climb on it.”

Lucas’s paediatrician told Kim about specialist safety beds – fully padded and with sides high enough that children can’t climb out – but she was shocked to discover how much they cost. She said: “Lucas gets a Disability Living Allowance and I thought I could afford to save £10 of this each month to buy the bed he needs. Then I looked up the prices and almost had a heart attack. Lucas would be almost 40 before I could save enough!”

Fortunately for Kim, her son’s school told her about Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, which has recently provided a specialist car seat for one of Lucas’s classmates.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness and has supported 389 under-19s in South Yorkshire, with equipment totalling £358,001 (1,218 children/£1,203,200 in Yorkshire as a whole).

Kim said: “I am really pleased with the quick response from Newlife. Getting the new bed will make a huge difference to Lucas’s night-time safety. There have been many times when his arms have been blue from bruises after hitting his arms during a seizure – that will soon be a thing of the past.”

The bed – which costs £3,283 – is now on order. Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber of Commerce has contributed £1,776 towards the equipment, with the balance of its £3,000 donation helping to fund a wheelchair for an eight-year-old girl in Rotherham.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of any fundraising or donation made in South Yorkshire will be spend on providing equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the area.

Newlife County Fundraiser Caroline Artschan said: “We are delighted that the Chamber of Commerce has chosen Newlife as its Charity of the Year. With statutory services continuing to make stringent cutbacks we are receiving more requests for help than ever before so the £3,000 is very timely.”

She added: “I am looking forward to working with the Chamber – which has 1,200 active members – in the coming months to show them how their support can transform young lives.”

If you would like to find out more about Newlife supports local children, go to: Caroline Artschan can be contacted on 07534 491 933.

Pictured: Lucas Rodermond