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Little Rhys Buxton has a genetic disorder that affects the nervous system causing severe physical and learning disability. He has no awareness of danger and needs constant supervision, which had made overnight stays away from home impossible.

The last time the family went away, in February, they joined a supported three-day holiday organised by the Angelman Syndrome Support, Education and Research Trust at Alton Towers. Mum of three Tia Buxton explains: “My husband was sleeping with Rhys in the hope that we could monitor his movements – but Rhys crept out of bed, turned on all the taps in the en suite bathroom and started playing in the toilet. The first we knew about it was when our youngest started crying. You just never know what Rhys is going to do next.”

Now, however, Rhys and his family from Plumstead in London are looking forward to some seaside fun this summer – thanks to the sale of thousands of plastic carrier bags!

A portable safety bed has just been provided for the four-year-old through fashion store chain River Island’s ‘fantastic plastic initiative’. The profit from every five pence carrier bag sold at every one of the chain’s UK stores goes to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children to directly fund vital specialist equipment, like the new safety bed for Rhys.

He sleeps in a specialist high-sided bed at home, but, says Tia, “there’s no way it is portable, so overnight stays with friends and family were out of the question.”

With the new portable safety sleeper, the family have plans to visit friends in Bournemouth and Tia’s dad in Margate – and take up offers of respite care.  “Having this equipment will make a big difference to all three children because we will be able to go more places together as a family, knowing that Rhys is safe,” said Tia. “It also means my mum will be able help out with his care by having Rhys stay overnight with her.”

Local statutory services wouldn’t help the family, so they contacted Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children.

Newlife Head of Charity Operations Stephen Morgan said: “It’s great that we could help Rhys, but right now we need to find £47,199 to help another 43 children in London. So we are appealing to individuals, groups, clubs and companies to help us help these children. If you think you can help a local child, go to  and donate now. Alternatively, contact the Newlife Supporter Relations Team on 01543 462777 or email

Know that every penny you give will be specifically used to help transform the lives of children across the Greater London area.

Pictured: Rhys Buxton