‘Make a huge difference to a child’s life’

Luca with parents Katie and Darren
Luca with parents Katie and Darren
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Today the Post is supporting children’s charity Newlife in its campaign to raise £15,500 to help give 16 disabled Lancashire children a better quality of life. TOM EARNSHAW reveals why.

Can you help us to raise £15,500 to help improve the lives of disabled children across Lancashire?

Luca Gardiner

Luca Gardiner

The Lancashire Post and charity Newlife are joining forces for an appeal to raise £15,500 to help 16 children from every corner of the red rose county.

Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

The charity receives around 20 new applications every day.

For Lancashire, this means the figure of 16 is likely to increase in the coming days, which is why support from those who can help is vital to giving disabled children a better quality of life.

One child whose life was transformed earlier this year was six-year-old Luca Gardiner.

Luca, from Cottam, Preston, was given a £3,000 wheelchair from Newlife.

He lives with Cerebral Palsy which affects both his arms and legs; he also has no core control and a scoliosis so it’s difficult to get him in a good seating position. He has already endured reconstruction of both hips, has epilepsy and is registered blind.

Luca had outgrown his old buggy provided by Lancashire County Council which was becoming awkward to move.

Katie Gardiner, Luca’s mum, said: “Luca has severe complex needs and it is very difficult to accommodate his postural requirements, Luca has an unusual shaped head which makes seating even more difficult.

“We need to be sure Luca has the right equipment at the right time, it’s his access to the world. Without it we couldn’t leave the house, so it’s hugely important that his wheelchair is the right one for him.”

The 38-year-old added: “It was also very important that Luca had a chair that he was comfortable in as it’s his main mode of transport.

“The funding from Newlife meant Luca could have the £3,113 wheelchair he needed which is just amazing.

“He has all the support he needs now and it even reclines so he can change position.

“The wheelchair is so light and manoeuvrable we can go out wherever we need to now. It has made a huge difference to our lives.”

‘He is so much more content and life is easier for us all’

Last June journey times were more than halved for a three-year-old and his family thanks to a new specialist car seat.

Finley Monks has autistic spectrum disorder and as a result has no awareness of danger. He loves speed, but when the family car slowed and stops he would release himself from his car seat, putting himself and others at risk.

Mum Lisa, from Wigan, said: “Finley didn’t just do this occasionally, it was every time we slowed or stopped...at traffic lights, road junctions, roundabouts. The 20-minute journey to nursery could take 40 to 50 minutes and we got to the stage where we would only take him out in the car if it was really necessary.

“I could never travel alone with him - there would always have to be someone else sitting in the back seat with Finley.”

Finley is already the size of an average five-year-old, so an added concern was that his standard car seat was too small for him. Lisa said: “It is only since we got his new, specialist car seat that we have realised how uncomfortable he must have been before.”

With the right equipment costing £665 and no funding available, Lisa was advised to apply to Newlife the Charity for Disabled Children, a charity provider of equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

Finley’s new, larger seat and harness - which he can’t undo himself - is now giving Lisa peace of mind. She said: “Finley did try to undo the chest clip on the new harness at first, but now he has realised he can’t release himself he has stopped trying. The new seat has additional head support and padding and he likes to snuggle into it. As a result he is more content - and it makes life so much easier for the rest of the family.”

A good night’s sleep at last

A three-year-old with a genetic condition that keeps him awake at night has been given the chance to have a good night’s sleep thanks to Newlife.

Dylan Blundell, from Bamber Bridge, repeatedly banged his head in his sleep because of the condition.

Dylan can’t speak and because he has a high pain threshold, doesn’t cry out, even with him hitting his head so hard that it has resulted in a permanent lump.

His dad, Jonathan, said: “Dylan can wake up to 20 times a night and bang his head over and over so hard, his mum, Aimee and I, are constantly going in to settle him back to sleep, which can take hours.”

But thanks to Newlife, Dylan no longer hurts himself as much at night after they provided him with a specialist high-sided padded bed when Jonathan and mum Aimee applied for funding.

Jonathan said: “Dylan’s condition means he feels the need to bang his head on any hard surface.

“This bed has made a massive difference to all our lives.

“We know that, although he’s banging his head on the sides as they’re padded we know it won’t hurt him. He still wakes for a few hours at night, but not as much, so we can sleep more too.”

Newlife’s senior manager of the care services department, Carrick Brown, said: “Through our Emergency Equipment Loan service we’re able to provide a child with desperately needed equipment when a situation has become critical.

“Just £1,100 would provide two children with the emergency equipment they need to save or change their life.”

How to contribute

To donate, visit www.newlifecharity.co.uk/donate, call the fundraising team on 01543 462777 or text NEWL18 £10 to 70070.

For more information about Fundraising for Newlife in Lancashire contact Jane Harries, Newlife’s Regional Fundraising and Awareness Manager for the North West on 07494 490561.