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Two simple items of specialist equipment are helping to keep eight-year-old Ryan Weidum safe from harm – and giving his family peace of mind.

A video monitor and magnetic car harness, costing a combined £634, mean he can sleep and travel in safety, thanks to the UK’s leading charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children has stepped in to help Ryan as there is no local statutory funding available for this vital equipment.

Ryan – who lives with his family in Banbridge, County Down – has severe autism combined with a learning disability and sensory processing difficulties. He has no awareness of danger and needs supervision 24/7.

Mum Myrtle Weidum said: “Ryan doesn’t realise he is putting himself in danger and will abscond quite a bit; he is an opportunist and very clever. As he gets older he comes up with new ways of running off, which is a nightmare.

“He has an eye for detail and has worked out how to disable the door and safety mat alarms we have in the house. He has run all the taps in the bathroom and we haven’t known anything about it until the water has come through the ceiling downstairs. I have to hide all the keys to the house so he can’t let himself out in the middle of the night.”

The new video monitor is activated by a pressure pad that goes under Ryan’s sheets and sounds an alarm in his mum’s bedroom. “I have to be very careful to install this in his bed when he isn’t watching so he isn’t aware of it and therefore can’t try to disable it,” she said. “Normally I lay awake for hours during the night, worrying about his safety, but we hope this will make a big difference.”

In addition to the monitor, Newlife has provided a specialist magnetic harness so Ryan can’t climb out of the family car at will. Myrtle said: “We have tried several different types of car seat for Ryan, but he always finds a way of releasing himself. I had a horrible experience in our local Tesco car park when he managed to wriggle out of his old harness. He is just so fast – he got out of the car and ran off; I lost him for a couple of heart-stopping minutes.”

Ryan is one of 110 children with disabilities and terminal illness in County Down who have been provided with specialist equipment by Newlife at a cost of more than £154,000. But right now, there are another six children in the county waiting for equipment totalling £10,171.

Earlier this year (March) the charity launched its Newlife County Down Fund – – which is an opportunity for local people to help local disabled children with every penny donated or fundraised in County Down guaranteed to support local families.

Special disability equipment including wheelchairs, walkers, beds, seating and communication aids can help give children independence, keep them safe, relieve pain and overcome challenges.

Vitally, the Newlife County Down Fund website – – enables local people to find out who needs help in their county and highlights the support the charity provides. It includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families.

Pictured: Ryan Weidum, safe at last in his specialist car seat.