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Fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative have hit the £1million mark which, since 2012, has helped hundreds of children with disabilities and terminal illness across their trading area.

In May 2012 Central England Co-operative colleagues chose Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children as their staff-elected charity. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Since then they have worked tirelessly to help fund specialist equipment like wheelchairs so that children can play a greater role in school life, seating so they can relax pain-free, beds to ensure they sleep in safety, mobile hoists to support them inside and outside the home and hi-tech aids so they can communicate with family and friends.

So far, 442 children have been supported through this successful partnership. To find out how a child in your area has been helped recently, see below.

Central England Co-operative Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle said: “As a community retailer and responsible business we are absolutely delighted to have been able to raise such a significant amount of money for Newlife Foundation and it’s all thanks to the dedication and generosity of the Society’s colleagues, members and customers. I’m sure that the knowledge that every penny raised has gone directly to benefit families across our trading area has provided a real incentive for people to get behind the campaign. Reaching the £1m mark is a fantastic achievement but we won’t be resting on our laurels and hope to make a difference to even more families before the partnership comes to an end.”

Newlife CEO Sheila Brown, OBE, added: “This has been an amazing partnership, helping us to support so many in urgent need. Without this level of support from Central England Co-operative, some of these children would have gone without the equipment they needed and many more would have had to wait months or even years just for an assessment of their needs. With statutory services’ budgets increasingly stretched, it is charities such as Newlife which step in to offer the vital equipment that really does change lives.

“I cannot thank Martyn Cheatle and his colleagues enough for their commitment to Newlife and the families we represent. Thanks a million!”

Central England Co-operative colleagues and customers have raised the money in a wide variety of ways including: • In-store activities like fun days, head shaves and bake sales • Sporting events like marathons, sky diving, walking and kayaking challenges • Car washes, jewellery sales and community awareness days.

How Central England Co-operative helped three-year-old Liam

Three-year-old Liam is unable to sit up by himself as his muscles are too loose and floppy to support him, making it difficult to keep him comfortable both at home and in the car – but thanks to two new specialist pieces of equipment life will be much easier.

Liam Howard from Stafford has a condition which has resulted in development delay, renal and nervous system disorders. At home Liam only has the sofa to relax on, but this doesn’t give his posture the support he needs and puts him at risk of developing a curvature of the spine as well as a general worsening of his condition.

Even in the car Liam can’t relax in comfort as he outgrew his standard car seat and only a specialist version would give him the extra support he needs to keep him safe and pain free, however these are much more expensive than high street versions.

However the £679 specialist comfort seating and £904 specialist seat, known as a PPod – essentially a beanbag base with a moulded seat – means he can be comfy, cosy and safe whether he is at home or in the car

Mum Natasha said: “Specialist seating is so very expensive – you can’t just pop to the high street and buy them for £20 or so. Without help we were facing the reality of not being able to go out, including not being able to do the school run for Liam and his brother, Kieran, aged four, which would have made life very difficult.

“Liam doesn’t smile very often, but the first time I put him in the P-Pod he really smiled.”

“The car seat and PPod will make life much easier. They are both very useful and I am very grateful for them.”

Pictured: Liam and mum Natasha with Central England Co-operative Chief Executive Martyn Cheatle and Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown, OBE.