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The family of a disabled Worcester boy are going the extra mile to support the Midlands charity which is helping to provide them with a much needed specialist bed.

William Blackshaw – who will be four in January – 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 105 Equipment Grants for children in Worcestershire, totalling £211,549.

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 are due to take delivery of the Safespace bed.

Dad James, aged 38, is aiming to raise £4,000 for Newlife Foundation by taking part in next April’s London Marathon. He said: “When I was younger I used to do a bit of running, but not on this scale; these days cricket is my sport. But 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 will be organising a series of events locally – like quiz nights and a raffle – to help achieve the £4,000 target.”

Later this month (December 14), James’s brother-in-law Jack Shipton, from Studley in Warwickshire, will be taking a leap of faith with a fundraising skydive. A first for Jack, he hopes to raise £1,500.

Dad 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 –

For enthusiastic runners who would like to join James on the course of the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 13 April 2014, Newlife Foundation still has a limited number of places for the event left to fill. For further details, call the Newlife Community Fundraising team on 01543 462 777 or email

Pictured: William Blackshaw.

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