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en-year-old Darragh McGlade will soon be sleeping in safety in a room of his own, thanks to the donation of a specialist bed from Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, working in partnership with retail giant Marks and Spencer.

Darragh, from Straw near Magherafelt, has complex physical and medical needs. He has hydrocephalus and severe epilepsy, which has resulted in developmental delay. He is able to sit with support but cannot walk, and uses a wheelchair for mobility.

Mum Jackie McGlade said: “Because of his condition and the fact that his seizures are mainly at night, I have always had Darragh in my bed so I can keep a close watch over him. His seizures usually start with him vomiting, so it is really important that I can get to him quickly.

“However, I now have a special monitor with a built-in alarm that alerts me to any change in his condition. He will be 11 in July so I really think it’s about time he was in a bed of his own. We have had some work done to our home so my bedroom is connected to Darragh’s new room so I will still be able to react quickly – all we needed was a suitable bed to keep him safe.”

With no funding available from local statutory services for a specialist high-sided profiling bed – so Darragh can’t fall out and he can sleep at an angle to help prevent choking should he be sick – Jackie and her husband started research of their own.

“I couldn’t believe the cost of the equipment; I was so shocked. It is over £6,000 . . . serious money,” she said.

The bed most suitable for Darragh has high sides for safety, a Perspex window in the side so he can look out and mum Jackie can see him at a glance, a profiling facility as well as the ability to raise and lower the bed to help his carers. It costs £6,135.

The McGlade family turned for help to Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children, which has supported them in the past. 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.
Jackie added: “When I found out how much the bed would cost I thought that my dream of getting Darragh in his own bedroom would never happen. To find out that Marks and Spencer are helping us through Newlife is amazing.”

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife Foundation for the last 11 years, donating returned products 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 more than 200 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £630,000, for children with disabilities and terminal illness across the UK.

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.”