Three-year-old Freddie Kowalski will soon be travelling in safety thanks to the donation of a specialist car seat from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer. Freddie, from Newbury in Berkshire, has a complex condition including Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy and curvature of the spine. He has no independent movement and needs to be posturally supported at all times – including in the family car. Freddie has reached the maximum height for his current car seat, but cannot progress to a standard booster because he wouldn’t be able to sit up or support his head when tired. Mum Nicky Clark said: “He is similar to an eight-month-old in terms of movement and understanding of the world around him. He needs a specialist car seat that tilts back and has additional padding to keep his body and head properly positioned. The seat also has a five-point harness to keep him secure (and won’t interfere with his stomach tube) and a swivel base so we can continue to get him in and out of the car as he grows. It will be much comfier as well as safer for him.” With no funding available from local statutory services and the car seat costing £2,131, Freddie’s parents turned to Newlife charity for help, pledging £500 towards the cost. 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 remaining funding for 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 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 240 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £815,000 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 charity, 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 £310,911 of equipment for 145 under-19s in Berkshire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another three families in the county with equipment needs totalling £5,416.
To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Berkshire go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/berkshire. The website includes contact details for the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 or email [email protected] – 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 Berkshire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.
Pictured: Freddie Kowalski