The mother of a disabled teenager from St Neots is appealing to the public to help her raise the money to buy a new powered wheelchair.
Jack Ledsham, 15, who has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, has outgrown his current specialist wheelchair and without a replacement there is a real risk that he will become housebound and lose some of his independence.
Jack, who attends Samuel Peypes School in St Neots, manages to maintain a reasonable level of independence as the chair allows him to go out on his own, but the eye-watering £22,575 price tag for a new one means it is out of reach for his mum Catherine.
“Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap and not only that, the extended warranty and insurance alone can cost up to £2,000,” said Catherine. of Ridgeway in Eynesbury.
“Jack has spastic quadriplegia which affects all four limbs. He is also non-verbal so he has to use his powered chair to assist him in his every day needs. Manual chairs simply don’t hold him in properly, which can be extremely dangerous, and they don’t allow him to move his body into a comfortable position,” she added.
The powered wheelchair is also vital for Jack’s academic and physical development and a manual chair wouldn’t allow Jack the freedom he currently enjoys.
“The powered wheelchair also means that he doesn’t have to go everywhere with a carer,” said Catherine.
“So if he gets bored he can move on. He even goes to a youth club on a Monday night now, something he just couldn’t do before.”
Catherine is being supported by the Caudwell Children charity, which provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.
“They’ve put us in touch with other charities, grant giving organisations, rotary clubs and masons lodges and they’re also helping us to plan a number of fund-raising events. But I also want to appeal to the public and the business community and ask them if they can give us a helping hand. With their support we can make life so much better for Jack,” said Catherine.
Trudi Beswick, chief executive of Caudwell Children, said: “This piece of equipment will improve Jack’s life immeasurably, helping him to develop both physically and emotionally. Unbelievably, there are 70,000 children in the UK who would benefit from the correct mobility equipment. Thanks to generous donations from members of the public we can support children like Jack, giving them the specialist equipment that they so desperately need and deserve.”
INFO: You can support Jack through his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/chair4jack