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Fabulous fundraising at the Central England Co-operative store in Groby is helping local girl Ria Thomas get the specialist seat she needs for her powered wheelchair.

Ria, aged 12 and from nearby Thorpe Astley, has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and has undergone 38 operations. Her health has deteriorated in recent months and she is now fed through a tube in her stomach. She already has one specially moulded seat, that helps to reduce pain, but this has to be swapped over from her manual wheelchair to her powered model – and back again – as she uses the two different pieces of equipment to meet different needs.

Having a second moulded seat – at a cost of £1,830 – to support her specific postural needs will mean she can be transferred directly from one wheelchair to another, without having to be moved to a chair or onto her bed while her solo seat is swapped over.

Mum Claire Thomas said: “The seat supplied by the NHS weighs an absolute ton and I find it very difficult to change it from one wheelchair to another on my own. Which means that if there’s no-one around to help Ria has to use whichever wheelchair the seat is fitted to, whether or not it’s the right one for her at the time. When she is poorly she prefers to be in her manual wheelchair because it is more comfortable, but this isn’t always possible.”

Newlife Foundation is Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity, and colleagues and customers across the company’s retail area have raised more than £882,000, which has already helped 417 children with disabilities and terminal illness get the vital equipment they need, when they need it.

Groby store assistant Veronica Brudenell raised £1,405 with a sponsored headshave during the summer. Her store manager, Simon Eales, said: “I am very proud of everyone here at the Groby store – Veronica for volunteering to help in this dramatic way and her colleagues for their fundraising support. As a regional retailer we always ensure that our staff-elected charity supports people in need in our trading area. We are delighted to have been able to help Ria and her family in this way.”

This is the second time Central England Co-operative has helped Ria, working together with Newlife Foundation. Two years ago the retailer contributed £2,681 towards her powered wheelchair.

For further information about Newlife’s range of services, call the Newlife Nurse Helpline on 0800 902 0095, email or go to:

Pictured: Veronica Brudenell, who raised £1,405 with her sponsored headshave.