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A specialist car seat means parents Annoushka and Andy Lingham, from Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire, have peace of mind when travelling as their young daughter Francesca is comfortable and safe – thanks to fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative.

Francesca – Andy and Annoushka’s eldest daughter who will be three years old next month – is diagnosed with Phelan-McDermid Syndrome (PMS). There are only about 130 people who are diagnosed with PMS in the UK and Ireland, with approximately 1,500 worldwide.

The rare genetic disorder has resulted in severe global developmental delay. Partially affecting her mobility and speech, Francesca is non-verbal, has low muscle tone and has autistic traits. Francesca was in need of a specialist car seat as a recent growth spurt meant that she had become too small for her standard seat, which didn’t offer appropriate postural support to meet her complex health needs.

Mum Annoushka said: “We used to have a standard high street car seat which was OK for Frankie, but as she has grown it just wasn’t giving her the right support. This limited our travel to short journeys only.

“Because of Frankie’s low muscle tone she feels heavier than she actually is. Moving her in and out of the car had become quite difficult – taking a toll on our backs. Andy already has back problems, but transferring Frankie would sometimes make it worse,” said Annoushka.

With the car seat costing £2,429, and no statutory funding available, Annoushka and Andy turned to Newlife – the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Annoushka added: “The new car seat has made such difference. A friend of mine told me about Newlife and how much it had helped them. Before we received the car seat we looked into funding the equipment ourselves but when we saw the price tag we realised there was no way we could afford the equipment she needed.

“The seat has a swivel base so we no longer struggle when transferring Frankie in and out of the car. Because Frankie is getting the postural support needed we can now go on longer journeys. Andy’s family live in Kent, which is three hours away. Without the special car seat visiting them was not an option. Our family adventures are no longer limited because Frankie is now safe; we couldn’t be happier with the service Newlife provided,” says Annoushka.

Darren Hammond, Store Manager at Central England Co-operative’s supermarket in Constable Road, St Ives, 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 Francesca.”

Newlife has supported 130 families in Cambridgeshire, with equipment totalling £148,344. For more details about how Newlife supports families in the area, go to

If you think you can help, go to the website and donate. Alternatively, contact the Newlife County Liaison Team on 01543 431 444, email

Newlife guarantees that 100 per cent of monies donated or fundraised locally will be used to specifically help children with disabilities and terminal illness in Cambridgeshire.

Pictured: Francesca Lingham