Latest Newlife News


The family of local Somerset boy Rowan Ireland are backing the launch of an appeal to provide specialist equipment for children with disabilities in the county.

Rowan’s parents are so grateful for the specialist bed to keep their two-year-old son safe at night that they are urging local people to help change the lives of other local children.

Right now, there are seven children with disabilities or terminal illness in Somerset who need your help to get the specialist disability equipment that will change their lives. That’s why leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation is launching the Newlife Somerset Fund – It is an opportunity for local people to help local disabled children and every penny donated or fundraised in Somerset is guaranteed to support vulnerable families in the county.

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 Rowan (full story below).

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.

Newlife has already helped 130 children in Somerset through equipment grants and loans totalling more than £210,800, so we know there is a very real need for a specific county fund. In this way we aim to help more children, more quickly.

Statutory services in Somerset 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 Someret who have helped Newlife help local children in real need.

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

Vitally, the Newlife Somerset 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 – tel no 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 Somerset 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 Somerset through a range of free services:
Nurse-staffed helpline
Equipment grants
Emergency equipment loans
Sensory and developmental toy ‘pod’ loans.


A specialist bed is helping to keep little Rowan Ireland safe from night-time injuries.

Rowan, aged two, was born prematurely and developed viral meningitis which has resulted in brain damage, Cerebral Palsy and uncontrolled Epilepsy.

Mum Lindsay Gould, who lives with her partner Phil Ireland and their three children in Taunton, Somerset, said: “Rowan has a lot of night-time seizures. The way he was thrashing around in his old wooden cot he was regularly damaging parts of his body. So we put him in a mesh-sided travel cot but this wasn’t big enough and it was hard to monitor him, which is something we need to do because he often stops breathing.”

On the advice of another local mum, Lindsay approached Newlife Foundation for help with funding a specialist padded, high sided bed. Statutory services provided a voucher for £1,500, with Newlife funding the balance of £3,500. The equipment is height adjustable to give a variable working platform for Rowan’s parents and can be tilted to aid his breathing.

Lindsay said: “Rowan goes through phases. He will have eight to ten weeks of relatively good health and then six weeks of bad. During those six weeks Phil and I take it in turns to sleep with him so we can monitor his breathing. I go in with Rowan until 3am then Phil takes over. I get a few hours sleep before getting up with the other children at 6am.”

She added: “Having this specialist bed is a huge help because Rowan doesn’t injure himself during the night any more – it is a safe space for him.”

Rowan’s parents were on BBC Radio Somerset on Thursday 2 April. To listen to the recording, click here