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Trips to see family and friends – and even holidays – are now made easier for eight-year-old Isabella Alford, with the provision of a portable hoist so she can be safely transferred in and out of her wheelchair.

Isabella, from Thetford in Norfolk, has Tay Sach’s disease, a rare genetic disorder that causes progressive damage to the nervous system and affects mobility. The family has a ceiling track hoist to use in their home, but trips out couldn’t be for more than a couple of hours because she would need to be hoisted out of her wheelchair for toileting/changing.

Now Isabella can go out for the day – and even stay overnight with her great aunts and uncle in Devon – thanks to provision of a portable hoist by Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children. This was made possible with support from fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative.

Newlife – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – has been Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity since 2012, receiving £1,336,087 from in-store and personal fundraising activities. More than 600 children have been helped.

Isabella’s mum Deborah Alford said: “The hoist has made a big difference. Whereas before we had to plan routes out around suitable changing facilities, now we have the hoist we can go almost anywhere. It is an integral part of our days out and has helped us take Isabella further afield to stay with friends and family.”

Angela McCall, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s Travel Shop in King Street, Thetford, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like Isabella.”

Newlife has supported 163 children in the Norfolk, with equipment totalling £191,598. Right now, the charity is working with another four families in the county with equipment needs totalling £1,515. To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: Isabella Alford