Legendary actress presents 6-year-old with tricycle
Dame June Whitfield, the legendary English actress who has starred in numerous radio and television comedy series since the 1950s, recently presented a 6-year-old boy from Hailsham, in East Sussex, with a specialist tricycle that has allowed him to play outside with his friends again.
Gabriel Ferreira has cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his mobility and has left him with poor balance. Although he can walk his leg muscles get sore easily and he has limited independence.
But now, thanks to the support of two charities, Gabriel, a pupil at Grove Park School in Crowborough, has received a life changing specialist tricycle.
Gabriel, was given the tricycle by Dame June Whitfield, who famously appeared in Jennifer Saunders hugely popular sitcom Absolutely Fabulous, at a surprise presentation held at the prestigious Sloan Club, in Chelsea, London, on Friday 11th August, 2017.
As mum Robyn explained it was a fantastic occasion and one that delighted her son: “Gabriel knew nothing about it. He was already excited as my husband, Jean-Pierre, and I told him that we were going on a day out to London.
“When Dame June appeared with the tricycle, and then handed it over to him, he couldn’t believe it. He was so happy and he had a huge smile on his face. The tricycle will make such a difference to his wellbeing and health.”
The tricycle has been specially designed to assist disabled children in their physical development and rehabilitation. It has been engineered to make pedalling that much easier so whilst Gabriel is having fun he will also be improving his core strength and co-ordination.
Robyn said that Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, were instrumental in raising the money for the tricycle. As she explained: “It was heart-breaking to see Gabriel missing out on so much so I contacted Caudwell Children to see if they could support us.
“They recommended the specialist tricycle but the one that they identified as best suiting Gabriel’s needs cost an eye watering £2,400, which was way beyond our budget.
“So they created a Just Giving page for Gabriel and organised a media appeal. The local community really got behind the appeal and the money immediately started to come in.”
Luckily, Dee Kirkwood, one of the Trustees of the charity The Stars Foundation For Cerebral Palsy (TSFFCP), founded by Dame Vera Lynn, heard of the appeal and immediately offered to cover the cost of the balance of the tricycle.
“It was such a compelling appeal,” explained Dee. “I felt we had to help and the specialist tricycle will not only allow Gabriel to play outside with his friends, it will also develop the muscle tone in his legs and improve his gross motor skills.
Dame June Whitfield, one of TSFFCP’s supporters, was delighted to make the presentation to Gabriel on behalf of both charities. As she explained: “I have been supporting Stars Foundation and therefore people with cerebral palsy for over 50 years so I was delighted to be able to make this presentation to Gabriel. This was a wonderful example of two charities working together and achieving a wonderful result”.
Trudi Beswick, Chief Executive of Caudwell Children, was extremely pleased with the funding collaboration. She said: “We are keen to work with other charities to ensure that disabled children get the equipment that they so desperately need and deserve. We can’t thank TSFFCP enough for providing £1,287 towards the cost of Gabriel’s tricycle and the wonderful Dame June Whitfield for presenting it to him.
“I would urge the local community to continue to support this appeal as the more money that we raise the more children we can help. There are an estimated 70,000 children in the UK who would benefit from the correct mobility equipment!”
Also in attendance at the presentation was the actress Sue Holderness, famous for playing Marlene Boyce in the hit comedy series Only Fools and Horses.
You can donate to Caudwell Children and help other children like Gabriel through his Just Giving page here.