Wheelchair to give teen her freedom

Alice Gresswell of Sleaford. EMN-170901-140115001
Alice Gresswell of Sleaford. EMN-170901-140115001

Sleaford teenager Alice Gresswell is to regain her freedom with the donation of a specialist climbing wheelchair having been restricted by a rare health condition to the ground floor of her Sleaford home for the past seven months.

Alice, 17, is diagnosed with osteopetrosis, a rare disorder characterised by extra bone growth and overly dense bones.

This has affected Alice’s skull, and has already impacted on her optic nerves causing her to lose her sight.

Alice presently has difficulties walking so uses a wheelchair to get around. With no way to get her upstairs in her wheelchair, both she and mum Beverley have been sleeping on the ground floor – and Alice has not been able to have a bath or shower at home since June 2016.

Mum Beverley said: “Alice has gradually lost her sight over the last three years and now there are concerns that her hearing will be affected too.”

The stair climbing wheelchair has been donated by Newlife, a charity for disabled children, working in partnership with Marks and Spencer. Alice says the wheelchair – due for delivery at the end of January – will make a huge difference and ‘means the world’ to her.

“It will enable me to begin to get my life back to being as normal as possible,” she said. “I will be so happy and grateful to be able to go up to my bedroom like any other 17-year-old.”

Beverley said: “A stair lift wouldn’t be any good because I would still have to get Alice’s wheelchair up and down too. Her occupational therapist researched stair climbing wheelchairs, and Alice has been able to trial one. It’s just what she needs, but there is no local funding available.”

Costing £4,550, Beverley turned to Newlife for help. Newlife is the UK’s largest charity provider of specialist equipment for children with disabilities and terminal illness.

M&S has worked in partnership with Newlife since 2006 as part of its Plan A commitments, donating returned products and clothing samples that cannot be sold, to the charity to be resold or recycled. The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Cannock and the charity recycles the remaining items, all to raise money for children with disabilities. In October 2010, M&S launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund over 240 pieces of essential equipment, totalling in excess of £815,000 for disabled children in local communities across the UK.

Newlife has helped provide £140,195 of equipment for 126 under-19s in Lincolnshire. Right now, the charity is currently working with another three families in the county with equipment needs totalling £4,724.

l To find out more go to: www.newlifecharity.co.uk/lincolnshire, tel 01543 431 444 or email local@newlifecharity.co.uk

Newlife guarantees 100 per cent of monies donations in Lincolnshire will be used to help children in the county.