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Ten-year-old Ben Littler has been given a specialist bed to help prolong his independence – and he received it just in time for Christmas.

Ben, from Dibden Purlieu in Southampton, has the degenerative condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Dad Stuart Littler explained: “Ben is struggling more and more with climbing up the stairs, getting into the car, onto the sofa and even into bed. He is still doing well for a boy of his age with Duchennes, and is OK on a Monday – but by the end of the week he is absolutely shattered.

“We are gradually introducing the equipment he will need, looking to the future, and a specialist profiling bed with a high-low feature is one of those pieces of equipment. It will help Ben maintain as much of his independence as possible as he will be able to adjust the position of the bed himself so he remains as comfortable as possible.”

Ben is currently taking part in clinical drug trials in association with Great Ormond Street Hospital, so the bed will help support his after-care.

The bed costs £7,075 – and with no funding available through local statutory services the family 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.

With funding support from the River Island fashion store chain, the bed was delivered just a few days before Christmas. Stuart said: “The timing couldn’t be better.”

Provision is thanks to a ‘fantastic plastic’ initiative by River Island. When you are asked to pay five pence for a carrier bag in a shop have you ever wondered what happens to the money? Well, in the case of River Island outlets – like the one in West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton – profits from sales of carrier bags are donated to Newlife.

Ben is one of more than 140 children to benefit from this life-changing nationwide initiative.

Newlife Foundation CEO Sheila Brown added: “As local authority budget cuts continue to bite, more and more families are turning to charities like Newlife for specialist equipment which can help transform young lives. Having the national support of River Island is an enormous boost for us.”

She added: “Anyone struggling to access equipment through their statutory services should call our Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK landlines and mobiles) to discuss their individual situation.”

Pictured: Ben Littler