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More than £2,500 raised by three Central England Co-operative colleagues from Melton Mowbray is helping Leicestershire teenager Alice Doyle get the lightweight wheelchair she needs to be independent.

Alice, aged 17 and from the Wigston area of Leicester, has Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus and has to rely on family and friends to push her around in her current wheelchair because it is just too heavy for her to propel herself.

Her family applied to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help – and thanks to its partnership with Central England Co-operative the money has been made immediately available.

Alice said: “My new lightweight wheelchair will allow me to have great independence and get around more easily and hopefully improve my street cred!”

She added: “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone that has helped to make this possible.”

Colleagues Jason Price (Funeral Director, The Co-operative Funeralcare Melton Mowbray) and Chris Barker (who lives in Melton Mowbray and works in Oakham) kayaked 100 miles along the River Thames in just three days. With the support of Melton Mowbray supermarket manager Andy Hall – who had the task of opening all 47 locks along the 100-mile stretch of river – they raised a total of £3,100, the remainder of which will be used to help fund equipment for other disabled and terminally ill children in Leicestershire.

Since the charity partnership was launched in May 2012, Central England Co-operative colleagues and customers have raised in excess of £672,156, which to date has helped fund items of specialist disability equipment for more than 300 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Jason Price said: “This year we wanted to push ourselves that bit further. We saw how our 2013 fundraising was put to great use and were determined to do better this year. The ‘Thames 100’ challenge was incredibly tough; both Chris and I went through some tough hours and at points wondered if it was possible to complete it in two and half days. Whenever we felt like enough was enough we were spurred on by the sheer number of people at home supporting us and the thought of how our efforts could possibly change another child’s life. By the time we hit 75 miles the pain in our arms was unbearable but together we pushed on through to complete our mammoth challenge. We are both very proud of the partnership with Newlife and want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported us over the last two years.”

Andy Hall, manager The Co-operative Food on Scalford Road, said: “As a regional retailer we always ensure that our staff-elected charity supports people in need in our trading area. We are delighted that our efforts are now helping Alice get the vital equipment she needs – and the residual funding will help another child in Leicestershire.”

Alice’s mum Sara Debrex Doyle said: “Alice can walk using crutches – but not far; so when she is at school or out with her friends she really needs a wheelchair. She is outgrowing her current wheelchair, which is too bulky for her to self-propel, and the replacement she has been offered by statutory services is also too heavy. Alice is being held up – she is a typical 17-year-old and needs her own independence.

“As a parent you are always looking at the next step for your child – and the very necessary next step for Alice is a lightweight wheelchair so she can live as normal a life as possible.”

She added: “Our local wheelchair services offered us a voucher for £738 towards the £3,247 piece of equipment that Alice needs, so it’s amazing that Newlife – with Central England Co-operative’s support – is funding the balance. This will make a huge difference to Alice.”

Pictured (R-L): Jason Price & Chris Barker

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