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A simple piece of specialist equipment means seven-year-old Cody Pelham and his brothers and sisters can travel in safety.

Cody, from Tamworth, has Downs Syndrome, a heart defect and epilepsy. He experiences panic attacks during which he undoes his and his siblings’ seat belts and can become aggressive while travelling. He needs a specialist harness to keep him safe – which is being provided by Staffordshire-based children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation with support from Central England Co-operative.

Newlife is Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity and over the past two years colleagues and customers have raised more than £520,000 to fund equipment for disabled and terminally ill children in the retailer’s trading area. Since May 2012, 242 children have benefitted from the partnership.

Cody’s mum Sharron Pelham said: “I have been fighting for help for Cody for years, yet just three weeks after we applied to Newlife for this equipment we have been given the go-ahead. It is a nightmare sometimes taking Cody out, so I can’t wait . . . .”

The £748 harness can also be used out and about generally. Sharron said: “Cody has no awareness of danger; he can’t walk far but he certainly can run. This will help prevent him running off and also help me catch him if he suddenly has a seizure and falls to the ground. I have a hiatus hernia which makes it very difficult for me to lift him when he drops.”

Sharron added: “I have only recently found out about the support Newlife offers to families of disabled and terminally ill children – and I am now busy spreading the news. Newlife responded so quickly to our situation, not only saying ‘yes’ to our application for the harness but by delivering a Play Therapy Pod full of specialist toys to our home. Cody loves these sensory toys, which are targeted at his sensory needs.”

A portion of the Central England Co-operative funding – £25,000 – has enabled Newlife to recently boost its Play Therapy Pod service by 86 pods, to over 200. Each pod contains around £400 worth of sensory and developmental toys for use by children with complex needs; they are available on 12-week loans.

Neil Styring, manager of the Central England Co-operative supermarket in Wilnecote, Tamworth, said: “As a regional retailer we always ensure that our staff-elected charity supports people in need in our trading area. We are delighted to be able to help Cody and his family in this way.”

For more details about the range of Newlife Foundation support services, go to The Newlife Nurse Helpline can be contacted on freephone 0800 902 0095.  Pictured: Cody Pelham 

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