A panto performance of Puss In Boots at the Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham is bringing extra joy to the family of a four-year-old girl in Sutton Coldfield.
Fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative’s Repertory Company raised £371 with a special performance of their panto, which ran from October 30 to November 1 (2014).
The money – raised for Cannock-based UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation – has helped to pay for a £600 specialist buggy so Bella Porter can get out and about more easily with her mum and younger brother Logan. The balance of the funding is also being met by Central England Co-operative, through its current charity partnership with Newlife Foundation.
Since the partnership was launched in 2012, Central England Co-operative colleagues and customers have raised in excess of £730,000 which – to date – has funded specialist equipment for more than 320 disabled and terminally ill children in their trading area.
Panto producer Sheila Palmer, who has been a member of the repertory company for 60 years, said: “We have a great bunch of people in our group who all had a lot of fun performing at The Old Rep. We are delighted to have been able to support Newlife for the second year running and wish Bella and her family lots of fun with the new buggy.”
Bella has autism and hypermobility, which means her joints are overly flexible; she is mobile but finds walking outdoors very difficult because of her condition.
Bella’s mum Lauren Porter had been using a second hand special needs buggy to get her daughter out and about. However, Bella had outgrown this equipment and it was falling to pieces – for instance, the foot plate has fallen off – so Lauren turned to Newlife Foundation for help.
She said: “I have been told statutory services can’t provide a suitable replacement and as Bella is getting bigger – she is already the size of a seven-year-old – it is getting harder to push her around. Lightweight specialist equipment will make a huge difference.”
Lauren added: “It will also have weather proofing against the rain and a wrap-around hood, which is really important because Bella doesn’t like bright lights because of her sensory processing difficulties. Having the new buggy will mean we will be able to go out whatever the weather.”
Pictured: mum Lauren Porter with children Bella – in her new specialist buggy – and Logan at the Wylde Green Central England Co-operative store, with manager Paul Barratt.