Latest Newlife News


A new lightweight wheelchair is giving three-year-old Xavier Meade the freedom to play with his friends – thanks to the fabulous fundraising activities of Central England Co-operative colleagues and customers.

Xavier, from the Aylestone Park area of Leicester, has Spina Bifida, which has affected the development of his spinal cord and surrounding bones. He is not able to walk so uses a wheelchair to get around – but until recently had a bulky NHS model that was so heavy he could only propel it a few yards at a time.

Mum Gillian Bishop said: “The old wheelchair didn’t properly support Xavier’s legs and hips, which led to pressure sores, and was so heavy that he had to rely on someone else to push him around a lot of the time, which he found frustrating.”

Gillian was told that a lightweight wheelchair would not available through local statutory services until Xavier was much older – in his teens – so, with the support of his physiotherapist, applied 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 and has provided £461,340 of equipment for 458 children in Leicestershire.

With the support of fabulous fundraisers at Central England Co-operative, Newlife has now delivered the £2,695 lightweight wheelchair and Xavier is enjoying himself keeping up with his friends at school.

Gillian added: “Xavier likes to commando crawl on the floor, but he can’t feel his legs and they have a tendency to break really easily. The old wheelchair wasn’t suitable for him during recovery from this sort of injury but he is finding the new one much more supportive. He also has prominent bones that stick out of his back and this wheelchair is better padded and more comfortable for him. He absolutely loves it; Xavier is in his new wheelchair seven days a week. He is currently at school three hours a day and he can now join in more PE sessions with his friends and be at the right height for desks. Out of school he uses it for things like going to the shops, medical appointments and generally whizzing around – he’s very fast in it, which he loves.”

Newlife has been Central England Co-operative’s staff-elected charity since 2012 – and colleagues and customers have raised £1.2million, which has in turn has helped fund specialist equipment like wheelchairs and walking frames, portable hoists and communication aids for more than 540 children in the retailer’s trading area.

Elizabeth Phillips, Manager at Central England Co-operative’s convenience store in Aberdale Road, Leicester, 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 Xavier.” Newlife provides equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness through a range of services. Equipment Grants fund permanent provision; Emergency Equipment Loans support children with unstable, life-threatening or terminal illness and those who face injury due to the absence of appropriate equipment; Play Therapy Pods offer loans of sensory toys which aid development; Comfort Capsules help families of terminally ill children make memories. All services are accessed through the Newlife Nurse Helpline – 0800 902 0095 (free from UK mobiles and landlines). Right now, Newlife is working with another 14 families in Leicestershire with equipment needs totalling £10,029. To find out how you could help a child in the county, go to: Alternatively, call the Newlife County Liaison Team – tel no 01543 431 444 – or email

Pictured: Xavier Meade