Christmas has come early for six-year-old Alex Hikins from Shiphay in Torquay, who has been given a specialist buggy (Friday 12 December) so his parents can get him out and about to visit family and friends during the festive season.
Little Alex has a complex condition involving Scoliosis, Severe Epilepsy, Global Developmental Delay and a visual impairment. He needs constant support while he is seated to prevent further damage to his hips and spine.
He has an NHS-issue wheelchair, but, says mum Gemma Hikins, this is big, bulky and difficult for her to push around and won’t fit into their family car. Crucially, it does not provide Alex with the opportunity to lie back and recover from his frequent daily seizures. They desperately needed a specialist buggy, but the cost of the equipment – £1,697 – forced them to turn to leading UK children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation for help.
Newlife has provided the equipment in time for Christmas, thanks to the amazing fundraising efforts of the Allen family from the Devon village of Hemyock.
In October, Newlife – together with the Allens – launched a fundraising campaign called Sam’s Legacy, in memory of brave teenager Sam who lost his four year battle with cancer this summer. Sam’s Legacy aims to help raise the £40,000 needed by Newlife each year to support disabled and terminally ill children in Devon.
Since then, Sam’s Legacy has already helped provide a specialist buggy for a young girl from the Cullompton area. Now, a fundraising coffee morning organised by the Allen family at their home in Hemyock on Saturday 29 November has raised the money needed for Alex’s buggy.
Gemma Hikins said: “It will be a huge help to have a lightweight buggy so we can enjoy activities as a family. The big wheelchair really limits what we can do, so Alex and his 11-year-old sister have been missing out on a lot of opportunities. And as Alex gets bigger, the issues around pushing him will only increase; already his weight combined with the wheelchair is over 50 kilos.
“Knowing that Newlife is helping us takes a big weight off our minds.”
The Allen family – parents Nick and Nicky and children Josh, Kasey and Lauryn – are the driving force behind Sam’s Legacy.
Sam, aged 18, had battled with cancer for four years and when he was unable to walk his parents contacted Newlife for help. Within days, the charity delivered a mobility scooter to their home so Sam could retain some independence in his last few months.
Mum Nicky said: “Helping other families get the equipment they need is a comfort to us – and would have made Sam very proud.
“In total we made over £1,600 on the day, which is amazing. We can’t believe it was so much – and there are a few donations yet to come in. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who supported our coffee morning. At one point there wasn’t any standing room in the house and luckily it was a nice day so we had people enjoying their coffee outside.”
For more information about ‘Sam’s Legacy’, go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/sam . Alternatively, you can call the Newlife Community Fundraising Team on 0800 988 4640 (free from UK landlines).
To find out more about the range of equipment grant and loan support services offered by the charity, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines) or email email@example.com.
Pictured: Alex Hikins