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Three-year-old Rowan Ireland will soon be travelling in safety thanks to the donation of a specialist car seat from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.

Born prematurely, Rowan, from Bathpool near Taunton in Somerset, contracted meningitis at six weeks old. This has left him with Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy and developmental delay – impacting on his mobility and balance. Travelling has become a problem because Rowan has outgrown his standard car seat and a booster would not provide the appropriate level of support and safety. He has a tendency to slump to the right because of significant muscle weakness and also needs a car seat that is tilted back for recovery following frequent seizures.

Mum Lindsay Ireland said: “He needs a specialist seat with additional padding to support his body and keep it straight, a pommel and five-point harness so he can’t slip down if he has a seizure and a tilted seat so he can be in a better recovery position. The harness will also prevent him from being able to get out of the car seat while we are travelling – at the moment he can wriggle out of the seatbelt on the standard seat. The equipment we need also has a swivel base which will help me get him in and out of the car more easily.”

With the car seat costing £2,301 and no funding available through statutory services, the family turned for help to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

A partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer is now providing the equipment.

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 Staffordshire 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.”

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 the local community and across the UK. 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 has helped provide £240,361of equipment for 180 under-19s in Somerset. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 11 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £11,507.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Somerset go to: The website 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 in the county.

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised in Somerset will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Pictured: Rowan Ireland