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The gift of a specialist car seat just in time for Christmas means three-year-old Ebonie Calvert will be able to get out and about to see her family in comfort and safety.

Ebonie, who lives in Pudsey, has a rare genetic disorder called Mowat-Wilson Syndrome; this is combined with the gastrointestinal condition Hirschsprung disease, a heart defect and developmental delay. Her mobility is affected and she is fed through a tube into her stomach.

She had outgrown her standard car seat and a special needs model was vital to her postural support and in-car safety. With the equipment having a swivel base it also means her family can get her in and out of the vehicle more easily.

Thanks to a ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative at River Island fashion stores which is supporting Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness, has given Ebonie the right seat at the right time.

When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a shop have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the ones in Bradford and Leeds – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to Newlife.

Ebonie is one of more than 140 children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative.

Her grandmother Joan Westerman said: “Ebonie is tall for her age and her head was above the headrest; she was flopping about and her head would fall forward so her old car seat wasn’t very comfortable or supportive any more.”

Larger, supportive car seats with swivel bases are not available on the mainstream market, and Joan was shocked to find that the equipment Ebonie needed would cost £1,330. So parents Gemma Westerman and Matthew Calvert were advised to contact Newlife Foundation.

Joan said: “The swivel function of the seat is really important because Ebonie can’t help us get her into the seat; without it she would get bumped around a lot, which wouldn’t be good for her especially as we have to be careful of her gastrostomy tube. The five-point harness that keeps her safe has also been padded so it won’t dig into her stomach.”

She added: “The new seat is wonderful and it gives us peace of mind knowing she is comfortable, happy and safe when she is in it . . . she sits there like a little lady.”

Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can help transform young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

If you would like to find out more about Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children’s range of practical support services go to

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 424 children in West Yorkshire, at a cost of £476,448. If you think you could help a local child, go to for further details.

Pictured: Ebonie Calvert