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When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a store have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one at Kingston upon Thames – all profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to national charity Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

Five-year-old Rian Nolan from Surbiton in Surrey is one of the many children to benefit from this life-changing initiative, and his equipment has arrived just in time to make the festive season extra special.

Rian has a genetic disorder called Menkes Syndrome, which has left him unable to talk, sit up or crawl; he has brittle bones and his joints can become dislocated very easily, so having a safe place to sit where he can be as comfortable as possible is vital – and the sofa just doesn’t provide enough support to lay down without slipping off. However a specialist seat now ensures he is comfortable enough to relax with his parents Jenny and Michael and siblings – four-year-old Lauren and one-year-old Kian.

Newlife – the largest charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness in the UK -provided Rian with a seat known as a P-Pod in September 2014, however he has outgrown the seat which is essentially a beanbag base with moulded chair. With bag levy funding from River Island, Newlife has now provided Rian with a larger P-Pod costing £2,177.

Rian’s mum Jenny said: “When Rian is in the P-Pod he is comfortable and Kian and Lauren can touch his face and hold his hand, which he loves. They can pull their chairs up next to him and then they get to play together.

“The P-Pod puts Rian at sofa height, so he’s able to be much more involved when we are all together in the evening and as it is easy to move we can take it with us wherever we go in the house – and if we are visiting people, it comes with us.

“He has a wheelchair to go outside in and a hard chair for feeding in, but he finds that very uncomfortable. The P-Pod is the chair he spends most of his time in. It’s his favourite seat. Even when he is quite ill, the P-Pod allows him to sleep in a sitting position if he needs to, it’s just fantastic. Having a P-Pod changed everything for us and I’m so pleased we have received a second one.

“As the P-Pod arrived in time for Christmas Rian can be right there when we open the presents around the tree on Christmas morning – in the P-Pod he is much more a part of things.” Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can help transform young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

Newlife has funded specialist equipment for 23 children in Surrey, worth over £33,180. If you think you could help a child in the county, go to for further details. If you would like to find out more about Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children and how to access its services, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline or go to

Pictured: Rian Nolan