Three colleagues from a Bolton-based business have taken a leap of faith to raise urgently needed funds to help a local disabled four-year-old.
Patrick Jager, David Headford and Alex Gibson all work for international wheelchair manufacturers Permobil, which has its UK base in Bolton. They took part in a skydive from 10,000ft to raise £2,000 for Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, which has been working with the family of Compton four-year-old Rhys Taylor.
Permobil product rehabilitation specialist David Headford said: “We provide wheelchairs for Newlife Foundation and so we know all about the charitable work they do, supporting families of disabled children all around the UK. We wanted to do our bit to help and thought that a skydive would be a little bit more exciting than a sponsored walk or a fundraising barbecue.
“We have had a lot of support from our colleagues – every single member of staff has put their hands in their pockets – as well as family and friends, with Permobil itself rounding up the funding to £2,000. The three of us had such a fun time taking part in the skydive that we would like this to become an annual event, getting more of our colleagues actively involved in the jump.”
David added: “Knowing that the money will help a Bolton child is the icing on the cake for us.”
Little Rhys Taylor has Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder which presents with severe Global Developmental Delay. He suffers frequent seizures and has difficulty sleeping; he has no awareness of danger and needs constant supervision.
At home he is kept safe at night by sleeping in a specialist cot bed, which has high sides so he can’t topple over and is padded to prevent him hurting himself. But because Rhys, a pupil at Green Fold School in Bolton, is too big to use a standard travel cot he is unable to stay overnight with his grandparents and family holidays are out of the question.
Mum Sheri said: “My in-laws live close by and they would love to help support Rhys by having him to stay occasionally; unfortunately this is not possible because he wouldn’t be safe in a regular bed. We long to do ‘normal’ things like go away and stay in a caravan or bed and breakfast, but this isn’t practical either.
“Rhys’s condition can be quite isolating – many of our friends live in and around London, but we are no longer able to visit for the weekend because of the same safety issues and it is too far to travel there and back in a day. Being able to visit again would be great because our friends’ emotional support has been very important to us, helping us get through the difficult times with Rhys.”
The portable bed that he needs to ensure his safety away from home is called a Safespace Voyager, but the cost – £2,699 – prompted the Taylors to turn to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help with funding. Permobil’s £2,000 will be added to the family’s own pledge of £380, with Newlife making up the shortfall.
Newlife has funded 313 equipment grants totalling £410,611 for disabled and terminally ill children in Lancashire and the Greater Manchester area.
However, demand on Newlife resources has shot up in recent months and the charity is appealing for ‘local heroes’ to come forward to fundraise or donate towards the cost of equipment for children in their area.
If you think you can help, the Newlife Community Fundraising Team can be contacted on freephone 0800 988 4640. Any individual or organisation thinking of running a fundraising event is asked to contact the team, who can offer support and guidance.
Pictured from left: Newlife’s Keleigh Tomlinson with Permobil’s Service Co-ordinator Alex Gibson, Product Rehabilitation Specialist David Headford and European Commercial Director Patrick Jager.