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A new powered lightweight wheelchair for 13-year-old Marcia Shaw has not only given her the independence she craves, but helped change the lives of her blind parents.

Marcia, from Cleveleys in Lancashire, has Sticklers Syndrome, a progressive disorder that causes visual, hearing and joint problems. She previously had a heavy, manual wheelchair from statutory services but because Marcia has severe arthritis in all her joints she was not able to propel it herself and had to rely on friends, family and teaching staff to get around on a daily basis.

Mum Natalie said: “I am totally blind and my husband is registered blind, but can see a bit. Both of us have a guide dog, so pushing Marcia’s old wheelchair was not easy for us. Getting it on and off public transport was even harder.”

“Our local authority had said it would take three to five years before Marcia could go on the waiting list for a powered wheelchair so our occupational therapist recommended we get in touch with Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.”

Newlife Foundation is the leading UK children’s disability charity, supporting families of disabled and terminally ill children through a range of practical support services. The charity awarded Marcia a £6,499 Equipment Grant.

Natalie said: “Marcia was able to trial the new wheelchair, which is amazingly light – I can pick it up with one hand. She couldn’t wait to take delivery. Marcia is able to get around more easily at school because previously she had to wait until a member of staff was available to help her. And at home it means we can go on more walks and trips out together as a family. It will make a big difference to us all. Receiving the wheelchair hasn’t just changed Marcia’s life, but our family life too.”

As statutory service budgets continue to be cut, Newlife Foundation is receiving an increasing number of calls for help from families in Lancashire. Across the UK, Newlife Equipment Grant allocations were up 33 per cent last year (2013/14) on the previous 12 month period.

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, said:  “Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children offers support and guidance as well as a range of practical services for families who often have nowhere else to turn. Last year (2013/14) alone, Newlife provided specialist equipment for 1,303 children across the UK at a cost of £2,088,105; £86,649 of this was for 58 Equipment Grants in Lancashire.”

She added: “That’s why we’re appealing for ‘local heroes’ to come forward and donate or fundraise to help a disabled or terminally ill child in Lancashire.”

If you would like to help other children in Lancashire like Marcia, call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on freephone 0800 988 4640 or email

To find out more about the range of equipment grant and loan support services offered by the charity, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline on freephone 0800 902 0095 or email Marcia Shaw 

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