Shoppers helping to make a difference for disabled youngster

Michael Latta

Michael Latta - Credit: Archant

Visitors to the Central England Co-op in St Ives have played a part in helping make life a little easier for a 17-month-old boy with chronic lung disease.

Staff at the Co-op, in Constable Road, and their colleagues across the region have been fundraising for the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children since 2012, and Michael Latta is one of those to benefit from their work.

Michael, from Needingworth, has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism, as well as chronic lung disease, resulting in him being on oxygen to help with his breathing. Michael also has scoliosis, which limits his head control, and requires a special car seat to give him the support needed to travel safely.

Fundraisers at Central England Co-operative stores are helping Michael get to his medical appointments in comfort and safety with a car seat paid for through donations made in stores like the one in St Ives.

Part of Michael’s condition results in his body overheating which means he doesn’t get enough oxygen. Michael had a standard car seat but he could only tolerate this for about 40 minutes before his mum Kirstie would have to pull over to cool him down. Trips to Great Ormond Street Hospital had to be made on public transport as the journey was just too long for him.

Mum Kirstie Latta said: “The local hospital was as far as we could go in the car because it just wasn’t comfortable for Michael. He would regular cry when in the car. Even on short trips I would have to pull over to cool him down. We tried to make the trip to Great Ormond Street once and it wasn’t long before we had to pull over because Michael was overheating.”

With the specialist car seat costing £320, and no statutory funding available, the family turned to Newlife for help.

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Kirstie added: “The new car seat is brilliant, it’s made such a big difference he doesn’t even cry any more. Michael is much happier and he is able to see out of the window now as the seat is raised. The great thing about it is it has wheels which means when we visit the hospital if I have to take him to a different ward I no longer need to manually transfer him. We can already see the difference it has made when driving. It’s enabled him to interact more with his big sister Emily too.”

Darren Hammond, store manager at the Central England Co-operative in St Ives, 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 Michael.”

To find out more about Newlife’s work in Cambridgeshire, visit: