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SIMPLE PIECE OF SPECIALIST EQUIPMENT MEANS THREE-YEAR-OLD CAN TRAVEL IN SAFETY

Three-year-old Anthony Gibson, from Colne in Lancashire, 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.

Anthony has Cerebral Palsy, a neuromuscular condition affecting co-ordination and movement; he also has Epilepsy, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and developmental delay. He is unable to sit safely and comfortably in the car without significant support and has outgrown his standard car seat.

Mum Emily Heaton said: “Anthony needs a specialist car seat that will recline so his head can’t slump forward, affecting his airway. When I am driving I quite often have to pull over to push his head back, which isn’t good on longer trips. For instance, his hospital appointments are ten and 50 miles away. Also, without the proper support he is in danger of developing further postural health issues. He doesn’t naturally sit on his bottom whilst he’s not in supportive seating, but on the bottom of his back – so I have to try to wedge him into place with a blanket. A specialist seat will not only have head and hip supports to keep him safe and comfortable, it will also have a swivel base to help get Anthony into the car more easily.”

The recline feature of the equipment will also mean Anthony will be better positioned to recover from any seizures.

With a specialist car seat for Anthony costing £2,027 and no funding available through statutory services, Emily posted her situation on the Facebook page of a disability support group – and she was advised to contact Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Emily said: “When I found out how much the car seat would cost it was a bit of a jaw-dropping moment. I thought it would cost more than a standard car seat but I was staggered by how much more. So to have help from Newlife is brilliant.”

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 Cannock, 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 £497,617 of equipment for 414 under-19s in Lancashire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 19 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £15,176.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in Lancashire go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/lancashire. 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 Lancashire will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in the county.

Note to Editors: Newlife is the largest single provider of specialist car seats around the UK, having invested more than £1.6million in the safety of disabled and terminally ill children. This is because local authorities do not have a statutory obligation to supply this equipment; instead, families can apply for a medical exemption certificate which allows their children to be transported unsecured.

However, Newlife believes that the safety of disabled children is as important as the in-vehicle security of able-bodied youngsters and so continues to support families through provision.

Pictured: Anthony Gibson

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