Thanks to fabulous fundraisers, four-year-old Lowri Edwards will soon be able to travel in safety and free from pain in the family car, which means she and her family will no longer be restricted to walking distance of their home in Clacton-on-Sea.
Lowri has Downs Syndrome and is unable to travel safely in her current standard car seat as she slumps uncomfortably to one side and is able to wriggle out of the safety straps. This has meant that she and her entire family have found it difficult to undertake even simple journeys to school or attend vital hospital appointments.
Most of what Lowri says is babble and her muscles are loose and floppy, which makes it difficult for her to walk anything other than short distances and also causes her to slump uncomfortably to one side when she sits. She also has hypermobility, which causes her joints to move well beyond the expected range – and allows her to wriggle out of the straps in her high street car seat.
To keep Lowri safe when she travels she needs a specialist car seat to give her lots of extra support to prevent her slumping, a turntable base to make getting in and out of the car easier and straps to keep ‘the little Houdini’ securely in her seat. However, as this costs £1,252, mum Haylie Shuttleworth turned to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.
After the charity shared Lowri’s story with the Colchester Gazette and the Clacton Gazette, local heroes quickly stepped forward to support the youngster – which means she will soon take delivery of the specialist car she needs to keep her safe and secure when travelling by car.
Mum Haylie said: “We would like to thank everyone who donated so Lowri can have this specialist car seat. It happened so quickly too, I was so surprised by it all.
“Having this will be fabulous. We’ll be able to go all over the place, places we couldn’t before as she wasn’t safe or comfortable in the car. This seat will be so much better for her as she will have all the extra support she needs, so she will be comfortable and pain free.”
Haylie added she had been struggling to find anything on the high street which would be suitable for Lowri and could only take her on the ‘most necessary journeys’. She also worried they were quickly approaching the stage where they couldn’t use her car seat at all, which would mean she couldn’t attend her special needs school, which is several miles away from their home.
As well as Lowri, Haylie has three other children living at home; Joshua, aged 17, Billy, 14, – who has a missing chromosome, resulting in learning difficulties – and seven-year-old Kelsey, so being able to travel together will make life much easier for everyone.
“This specialist car seat will make a huge difference to us and it should last her until the age of 12, so it will be the only one she needs. She won’t be able to slip out of the straps of the car seat and the swivel base will help her transfer safely into her wheelchair.”
Newlife is currently receiving more Equipment Grant applications than at any time in its 25-year history, which is why public support is needed to help families caring for disabled and terminally ill children in Essex.
The website www.newlifecharity.co.uk/essex includes contact details for the Supporter Relations Team – tel no 01543 462 777 or email [email protected] – and shows specific ways people can help support children with disability and terminal illness and their families in the county.
Pictured: Lowri Edwards