Halesowen primary school pupil Harry Vincent has raised £275 for leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation by completing a climb of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. Harry, aged ten, who attends Hurst Green Primary School in Halesowen, made the 16-kilometre walk and climb – which took just over seven hours – with his father Steven during the summer holidays.
The money has helped to buy sensory equipment for two-year-old Birmingham girl Millie Boyce, who is blind. Millie has had both eyes removed after developing tumours on her retinas. Harry was sponsored by family and friends as well as teachers and pupils at his school, which was introduced to the work of Midlands-based charity Newlife Foundation during a morning assembly last term. Harry said: “We found out all about the things the charity does for families with disabled and terminally ill children, providing special equipment which they really need but is very expensive.
“I wanted to do something to help a local boy or girl and talked to my mum and dad about it. We came up with the idea of raising money by climbing Scafell Pike.”
Two-year-old Millie Boyce, from West Heath, Birmingham, can walk independently, using a cane, but gets frustrated playing with regular toys.
Millie’s mum Stephanie Broom said: “Her frustration with normal toys is changing her behaviour – she needs stimulation at home through sounds and textures. She gets to play with specialist toys at the sensory support nursery in Nechells, Birmingham, that she attends each Tuesday morning and it would really benefit Millie to have some similar equipment at home.”
The sensory equipment that best suits Millie’s needs costs £834 so her parents turned to Newlife Foundation for help.
Newlife is based in Cannock, Staffordshire, and helps disabled and terminally ill children across the UK; last year alone the charity awarded £1.2million in equipment grants – £86,126 went to help 69 children in the West Midlands. But Newlife is experiencing hugely increased demands on its resources; calls to the Newlife Nurse helpline – 0800 902 0095 – have shot up by 76 per cent on 2010. This is an average of 300 calls a week, with thousands more hits on the charity’s website www.newlifecharity.co.uk
Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “Our equipment grants are so vital to so many children, offering practical support to families in need. Equipment can range from a pain-relieving bed to communication aids, from wheelchairs to sensory aids like the ones Millie needs. Equipment that costs from hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise a child’s life.”
“Because of the huge demand,” said Sheila, “we are looking to ‘local heroes’ like young Harry to help us raise more money. Congratulations on his achievement.”
Following his sponsored walk and climb, Harry said: “We were lucky to have good weather on the day, although we couldn’t see anything from the top of Scafell Pike because of the low cloud. We would have finished sooner, but my dad took a bit of a wrong turn and we ended up walking two mountains, not one!”
He added: “I am pleased to have raised such a good sum of money to help Millie. Thanks to everyone who sponsored me. I was even given £10 sponsorship by another walker on my way down from the top of the mountain.”
Anyone wanting to support the charity can call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on 01543 462777.
Pictured: Harry Vincent, aged ten, during his ascent of Scafell Pike in the Lake District.