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South Yorkshire youngster James Gibbins is now able to sit in comfort and safety, thanks to specialist seating donated by a leading children’s disability charity with support from Marks and Spencer.

The two-year-old, who lives with his family in Thurgoland near Barnsley, has Cerebral Palsy, a visually impairment and gastro-oesophageal reflux. This means he is unable to move independently and has to be carefully positioned so he doesn’t choke when he is sick.

James has specialist seating which he uses for comfort and safety at home, but his mum Lisa desperately needed a second chair for him to use when he is being looked after by his grandmother.

Lisa said: “I am so grateful to my mum, who is 71, for looking after James two days a week. It gives me a break from the 24 hour care James needs so I can do everyday things like go to the supermarket. The seating we have at home is a godsend, but statutory services won’t provide a second chair for James. Before getting this help, when he was at my mum’s he had to be either propped up on the settee, which wasn’t safe because he could roll off, or lie on the floor, which wasn’t safe in case he was sick and choked. Neither of these options was particularly comfortable.”

“Lisa added: “The chair is on wheels so my mum can move it around the house – it will make supporting James so much easier.”

The specialist seating, costing £1,889, has been provided by a partnership between Newlife Foundation and Marks & Spencer, and means that James will at last be able to sit in comfort and safety when he is being cared for by his grandmother.

Sheila Brown OBE, chief executive of Newlife Foundation, added: “Our partnership with M&S benefits hundreds of children and their families. It is very encouraging to see the efforts of M&S in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within local communities. Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can transform lives. We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife – the UK’s leading charity funder of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness – has helped provide more than £276,000 of equipment for 294 under-19s in South Yorkshire. However, the charity is currently working with another 21 families with equipment needs in excess of £28,000.

In response to the growing need in the county, earlier this year the charity launched its Newlife South Yorkshire Fund. The fund’s website – – enables local people to find out who needs help in their county right now and highlights the support the charity gives families. 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.

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Cannock and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £630,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK. Jacquie Leonard, Community Programme Manager at Marks & Spencer, said: “Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment. We are delighted to be able to support such a vital charity.”

Pictured: James Gibbins