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PAIN-FREE TRAVEL FOR FIVE-YEAR-OLD THOMAS

Five-year-old Thomas Gardner from Boston will soon be getting a specialist car seat so he can travel in safety and free from pain – thanks to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.

Travelling is not always a happy experience for Thomas; he has a degenerative condition* which affects his muscle tone and means he slumps in his car seat – and the safety strap cuts into his neck. Mum Gemma said: “We recently went on a family holiday to Dorset. Thomas was excited and had been signing ‘holiday’ for weeks before, but the long journey, which was so uncomfortable for him, really took its toll.”

The family had bought a top of the range standard car seat for Thomas, but his condition means he needs specialist seating. The high cost of this – £2,391 – prompted the Gardners to turn to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children for help. Newlife has awarded 74 Equipment Grants totalling £86,648 for disabled and terminally ill children in Lincolnshire.

Because of the risk to Thomas’s safety, Newlife is fast-tracking the application. Gemma said: “We were able to trial one of these car seats – it sat him upright and supported him in all the right places. Thomas was sat in it like a king! Not only that, but it has a swivel base so it will be easier to get him in and out of the vehicle, reducing discomfort to his legs and the chances of him banging his head. With journeys to and from school and hospital and clinic appointments, getting this equipment will be a huge help on an almost daily basis.”

To underline Thomas’s level of need, Gemma added: “He has a 14-month-old little brother who doesn’t require anywhere near the same degree of support.”

Newlife is currently working with the family of another disabled child in Lincolnshire, with equipment needs totalling £5,418.

Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said: “As cutbacks continue to bite into local authority budgets we are seeing applications for our equipment services continue to rise. In 2013/14 we awarded 33 per cent more grants than the previous year, investing £2,088,105 in specialist equipment for 1,303 children around the UK.

“This means that, as a charity, we are looking increasingly to ‘local heroes’ to help us help children in individual counties – and Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of all monies donated or fundraised in Lincolnshire can be ring-fenced to specifically provide equipment for disabled and terminally ill children within the county.”

If you would like to donate or raise money to help fund specialist equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in Lincolnshire, 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.

For full details of Newlife Foundation’s range of practical support for disabled and terminally ill children and their families, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline – freephone 0800 902 0095 – or go to:

https://newlifecharity.co.uk

● Thomas has a diagnosis of Leukodystrophy – a degenerative disorder which can result in progressive loss of body tone, movement, speech, vision and hearing – and Global Developmental Delay.

Pictured: Thomas Gardner from Boston.

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