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A specialist bed will give Autistic four-year-old Dexter Gilmore from Donaghadee, a safe place to rest and sleep and allow his exhausted parents some peace of mind.

For Dexter, bed time is not relaxing – he can’t switch off and enjoy a restful night’s sleep. As a result of his disability, Dexter has severe learning difficulties, and is unable to speak – he will frequently get up in the middle of the night and try to hurt himself in order to get some sensory input and with no sense of danger, he can’t understand that he could be putting himself at risk.

In desperation, Dexter’s mum, Michaela King, turned to Newlife, the Charity for Disabled Children, to see if it was able to help. Recognising the urgency of the situation, Newlife loaned the family a specialist bed called a Safespace Voyager. It gave Dexter a place to go where he could feel safe and transformed the family’s stressful nights from fraught and anxious to relaxed and calm.

However, the loan will shortly expire, so Newlife, through its partnership with Marks and Spencer, is providing Dexter with the £6,675 needed so that he can have his own full size Safespace.

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Staffordshire and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 260 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £850,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK.

Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Newlife Head of Operations Stephen Morgan added: “The UK has more disabled children than ever before – and our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children. It’s an outrage that families have to ‘battle’ local services and yet still face heart-breaking refusals. The support of organisations like M&S means we can change lives across the UK every day.”

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in County Down will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the area