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The lives of more than 630 disabled and terminally ill babies, children and young people across central England have been transformed, thanks to a five-year charity partnership.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children became Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity in 2012 and since then colleagues and customers have raised £1.5million – every penny of which is directly spent on specialist equipment to help change lives.

So far, 635 children across the Central England Co-operative trading area have received equipment including wheelchairs, walking frames, seating, portable hoists and communication aids. One of the most recent children to benefit is Bethany Bell from Nottingham (see story below).

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “It has been a fantastic partnership with a fantastic organisation. Central England Co-operative colleagues in stores across 16 counties have put so much effort into events to raise money for Newlife. That really shows, and has helped hundreds of families who might otherwise have had to struggle on without the specialist equipment they needed.”

Sheila Brown and Central England Co-operative Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle got together at the company’s Boley Park store in Lichfield, Staffordshire, yesterday (Tuesday 25 July) with Matthew and his mum Christine Smith to mark the end of the successful partnership. Martyn Cheatle added: “For us, it’s been a fantastic five years and we are so proud to have been able to raise £1.5million. However, the important part of the entire partnership has been that we have been able to give all of the money back to support people in the local communities that we serve.”


For nine-year-old Bethany Bell from Nottingham, going outside can be traumatic because the weather has a profound effect on her rare chromosome condition. She suffers from seizures, can’t walk and needs round the clock care – however, she is sensitive to the rain, which makes her distressed and agitated, while bright sunlight and heat can cause her to have a seizure.

Without the right accessories for her wheelchair, Bethany, her mum and sister were trapped at home.

Mum Charlotte said: “Although Bethany is nine, developmentally she is like a six month old baby – she is overwhelmed by loud noises and is very sensitive to temperature. She hates the rain so if it is raining we just don’t leave the house and obviously this has an effect on my six-year-old daughter, Eden, too.”

Bethany needed a hood specially designed for her wheelchair to keep her dry when it rains and to give her some shade from the sun.

Charlotte turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help – and with funding from the organisation’s partnership with Central England Co-operative, Bethany now has the equipment she needs.

Charlotte said: “Having this simple piece of equipment has stopped us being so isolated and made a huge difference. With the long school summer holidays now here, the timing is perfect. Now we can go out for longer periods of time and Bethany is happy to be out and about because she is protected from the weather.”

The UK now has more disabled children than ever before and without Newlife, thousands would simply go without the equipment they need. As the largest UK charity providing specialist equipment, Newlife comes to the rescue, saving and changing lives every day. But Newlife can’t do this alone.

There are currently 13 children in Nottinghamshire alone who are waiting for equipment totalling £3,560. To find out more about how you can help a disabled or terminally ill child in the county, visit, call 01543 462777 or email

Pictured1 (L to R): Martyn Cheatle, CEO Sheila Brown OBE, Christine Smith & Matthew Smith and Karen Dobson

Pictured2: Bethany Bell