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A disabled children’s charity is calling on the local community to make Christmas extra special for a teenager in St Leonards-on-Sea by funding a specialist moulded seat with enough support to prevent her choking and to accommodate her painfully curving spine.

Born 13 weeks early Katie Histed is 17 but has the abilities of a new born. She has Cerebral Palsy which affects muscle control of both her arms and legs. She’s deaf, can’t speak and has breathing difficulties, including one lung that collapses.

Although parents, Ian and Teresa, say their local health and social care services provided a seat for Katie to prevent her choking, it doesn’t accommodate the S shape of her spine. As a result she has a permanent red pressure mark on the skin above her spine and can’t tolerate using it for long, but can’t safely sit anywhere else.

Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children is urgently raising £3,772 to fund a specialist moulded seat for Katie that will meet all her needs – and an anonymous donor has already pledged to match all donations Newlife receives for this pound for pound.

Sitting in just the right position is crucial for Katie. It means she can cough by herself and dribble. If she isn’t, then terrifyingly she needs oxygen to help her breathe and risks breathing vomit into her lungs and choking, as well as causing a chest infection – which is particularly dangerous for her.

Dad Ian said: “Katie is like a ticking time bomb, she’s so vulnerable she could choke on anything at any time. It’s terrifying.

“She can’t sit in just any chair, but the only one we have for her at home causes her pain. It’s rigid and hard and can’t accommodate the curve of her spine which seems to be getting worse.

“We just want Katie to be able to sit in a chair that is at the right angle for her breathing, but also keeps her comfortable and pain free.

“At the moment she’s getting very distressed and she’s not sleeping well. If Katie could be comfortable and relaxed she would be happier. She would have a much better quality of life.

“For Katie to be safe and happy would make the best Christmas for us all.”

Newlife’s Senior Manager for Care Services, Carrick Brown, said: “Not having the right equipment has a huge impact on the lives of disabled children and their families, as we see here with Katie, but statutory services often have limited stock which just isn’t suitable. This leaves families with no choice but to turn to charities like Newlife.

“Unfortunately, as much as we want to help Katie and her family, we simply don’t have the funds to buy the equipment right now. So we are desperately appealing to the local community for help to raise the money so Katie can get the specialist seat she urgently needs.”

STOP PRESS: Thanks to a great community effort and lots of media support we have now raised enough money for Katie’s specialist buggy.  

However, you can still donate to help the other 37 children on our waiting list in the South East who need £32,946 of specialist equipment.  If you are able to help please call 01543 431 444, visit the website at or email