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Three-year-old Zachary Parmesani will soon be able to go out in his specialist buggy whatever the weather, thanks to the donation of weatherproofing from Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer. Zachary, from Pendlebury in Manchester, has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delay and behavioural difficulties. He has no awareness of danger and has been given a specialist buggy by local statutory services to help keep him safe when he is out.

Mum Florencia Parmesani said: “He doesn’t realise the dangers of doing things like running out into the road, so this buggy, specially designed for older children with safety needs, is his protection. It has pretty much saved his life. Unfortunately it came without any weather-proofing, which is really necessary because the weather is so unpredictable – and Zachary has a very strong sensory reaction to rain; he can have ‘meltdowns’ and put himself and other people at risk.” With the additional weatherproofing for the equipment costing £178, Zachary’s parents turned to Newlife charity for help. 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 helping to provide the 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 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 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 £405,315 of equipment for 480 under-19s in the Greater Manchester area. Right now, the charity is currently working with another 28 families in the county with equipment needs totalling £47,698.

To find out more about how Newlife supports families in the area 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 across Greater Manchester.

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

Pictured: Zachary Parmesani