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One of Worcester’s oldest established businesses is holding a fundraising day to help disabled and terminally ill children in the county.

Knowles Sports (established in 1884), in Broad Street, will be donating a percentage of its takings on Saturday 8 March to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. In addition, a raffle featuring top sporting prizes will give customers and charity supporters the chance to win a Gray-Nicolls cricket bat signed by England cricket captain Alastair Cook, four tickets to any Worcester Warriors game this season or next donated by Kooga, Asics running clothes, a snooker cue signed by John Parrott, Ron Hill running clothes, a Wilson tennis racquet with balls and a Wilson American football – and more.

Knowles Sports’ managing director Rick Knowles is supporting the fundraising day, which has been organised by the store’s ground floor manager James Blackshaw. James is organising a series of fundraising events to complement his sponsored participation in this April’s London Marathon. He will be running in aid of Newlife Foundation, which is providing a specialist bed for his son William.

Four-year-old William has an undiagnosed developmental condition which means he has limited physical ability and experiences muscle contractures that have resulted in long-term sleep problems.

For two years, William has been sleeping between his parents because the contractures meant he repeatedly hurt himself on the rails of his cot and was at risk of getting his limbs trapped. Parents James and Sophie need a specialist Safespace bed with high padded sides that is height adjustable to help them care for William as he gets older.

James said: “Because of his condition, William has to be turned regularly while he is in bed to realign his posture, otherwise he cries out in pain. The new bed will include a sleep system to keep him in the most appropriate position and reduce pain.”

Worcestershire County Council offered the Blackshaws £3,000 towards the equipment – but the total cost is £5,157, so the family turned to Midlands-based Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help. Newlife has provided 107 Equipment Grants for children in Worcestershire, totalling £219,758.

The charity – which supports families across the UK who have children with significant disabilities, whether in-born or acquired through accident or illness – has funded the £2,157 shortfall and the Blackshaws will shortly be taking delivery of the bespoke Safespace bed.

Dad James, aged 38, is now aiming to raise £4,000 for Newlife Foundation. He said: “We are grateful for Newlife’s support and I wanted to give something back. The whole family is getting involved with helping to raise the money and we are organising a series of events locally to help achieve the £4,000 target.”

James is already in training for the London Marathon, running up to six miles three times a week. “I will be gradually stepping this up as I get closer and closer to the event – and I am getting coaching tips from my dad, who has taken part in marathons himself,” he said.

If you would like to sponsor James in his marathon bid, go to his JustGiving site –

Pictured: William Blackshaw

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