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Ten-year-old William Wilkins will soon be sitting comfortably at his home in Whitwick, Leicestershire – thanks to fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative.

Staff, with the support of customers, have been raising vital funds to help Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children provide specialist equipment for families across the Central England Co-operative trading area.

William is the latest of more than 600 children to receive equipment with Central England Co-operative support since 2012.

He has the chromosome abnormality Pallisister-Killian Syndrome, a developmental disorder that affects many parts of the body and is characterised by weak muscle tone which interferes with motor skills and can cause breathing difficulties.

William is supported with a range of equipment, but he has grown out of his specialist seating – called a P-Pod – which gives him somewhere comfortable and safe to sit and supports his back with a seat moulded to his body shape. With no funding available from statutory services for a replacement costing £869, his family contacted Newlife for help.

Mum Claire Wilkins said: “I was already aware of Newlife through seeing the collection cans at our local Central England Co-operative – and a friend received a wheelchair for her little boy through an emergency equipment loan from the charity.

“Newlife responded quickly to our application for a larger P-Pod for William so he can be back in a comfortable seat.

“Because he has outgrown his existing P-Pod he has either been sitting in his wheelchair at home or lying in his hospital-style bed. Unfortunately, he is also outgrowing the wheelchair so we have had to remove all of the padded liners from it to give him a bit extra seating space, so that’s not terribly comfortable either. We are currently waiting for a replacement wheelchair from statutory services.”

Claire added: “William gets a lot of enjoyment from a P-Pod; it is just the right height to sit and watch TV and, because it’s on a mobile base, he can use it in his bedroom too. For me, it’s peace of mind knowing he is comfortable and secured with a safety strap.”

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness. Since 2012, Central England Co-operative colleagues and customers have raised £1.3million for Newlife, which has in turn helped fund specialist equipment like wheelchairs and walking frames, portable hoists and communication aids for more than 600 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Marc Angrave, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s convenience store in Whitwick Market Place, said: “Central England Co-operative takes fundraising to help local communities very seriously, and we are committed to making a positive impact in the local areas in which we trade. Working with Newlife has provided a great opportunity for us to help make life easier for youngsters like William.”

Newlife has supported 465 children in Leicestershire, with equipment totalling £463,645. Right now, the charity is working with another 15 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £10,614. To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: William Wilkins