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The family of Strabane boy Matthew Gallagher are backing the launch of an appeal to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities in County Tyrone.

His mum Claire is so pleased with the specialist car seat that enables her seven-year-old son to travel safely that she is urging local people to help change the lives of other local children.

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has helped 33 families in County Tyrone through equipment grants and loans totalling £28,806, so we know there is a very real county need.

That’s why Newlife – the largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK – is launching the Newlife County Tyrone Fund – It is an opportunity for local people to help local disabled children and every penny donated or fundraised in Co Tyrone is guaranteed to support families in the county.

In this way we aim to help more children, more quickly. Special disability equipment including wheelchairs, walkers, beds, seating and communication aids can help give children independence, keep them safe, relieve pain and overcome challenges. For instance, you could help a child be discharged from hospital, take their first steps or kick a football with their friends. . . .

You can help Newlife help more children like Matthew (full story below) who was provided with a specialist car seat that improves the whole family’s safety and meets essential care needs.

Together we can really change the lives of children with disability and terminal illness – supporting them to experience and enjoy life and all that we take for granted.

Statutory services in County Tyrone often have a responsibility to make equipment provision – but when help is declined, Newlife steps in. The charity challenges many such decisions and has an impressive success rate. However, where we are unable to overturn these decisions, we provide the equipment ourselves through our range of grant and loan services. We do this with the support of front-line health professionals across County Tyrone who have helped Newlife help local children in real need.

The Newlife County Tyrone Fund will support equipment provision for under-19s facing any significant disability, whether acquired through birth defect, prematurity, accident or illness.

Vitally, the County Tyrone Fund website – – will enable local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlight the support the charity gives vulnerable families. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – telephone number 01543 431 444 or email – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families.

That might involve taking part in a local sporting challenge, give you information on how to organise a fundraising event – or even ask you to donate £5 today! Volunteers are also needed to help raise awareness of what we do and how we do it.

We hope that by launching the Newlife County Tyrone Fund, children with disabilities or terminal illness in the county won’t have to go without the equipment they need for everyday life.

Newlife Foundation supports families in County Tyrone through a range of free services:

Nurse-staffed helpline

Equipment grants

Emergency equipment loans

Sensory and developmental toy ‘pod’ loans.


New equipment for her son has made the world of difference to Matthew’s mum Claire Gallagher.

Matthew had outgrown his High Street purchased car seat and needed a larger one with a five point harness for the correct postural support and to make sure he is safe whilst travelling.

The seven-year-old needs anti-epileptic therapy and emergency medication for prolonged seizure activity. He needs assistance with all aspects of his activities of daily living.

Matthew is non verbal and is not walking, so it was almost impossible for his parents or carers to get him into a car seat designed for a toddler. Funding was not available for the larger seat until Newlife became involved funding the £960 equipment that allows Matthew to get in and out of the car more easily and travel in safety.

“The new car seat is fantastic for Matthew,” said Claire. “He can get out of the car much easier – it is specific for his needs.

“Processing the grant was very easy and the nurses were lovely and helpful.

“It is a horrible thing telling everyone this but with his old seat we were often guilty of banging his knees, it was much more difficult to get him in and out comfortably.”

Pictured: Matthew Gallagher