Shropshire teens fundraising mission
A 14-year-old boy from Harlescott, in Shrewsbury, is on a mission to raise £18,000 for a charity that has agreed to provide him with a state-of-the-art wheelchair.
Thomas Lake, has cerebral palsy, a condition that restricts the movement of his muscles, and it has left him unable to stand or walk.
Thomas has just enough strength in his right hand to use a powered wheelchair, which he has used since he was four years old.
The wheelchairs that he has had over the past ten years have allowed him to access mainstream school, where he’s performed well.
However, as Thomas has continued to develop he’s outgrown his current state-of-the art wheelchair and it’s started to affect his studies. He’s had to use his more basic NHS model which doesn’t enable him to get up to science lab desks.
The chair has reduced Thomas’s self-esteem as it’s less powerful and he keeps getting stuck on surfaces that he could previously access.
Thomas recently had to be helped by local footballers when he became stuck on a pitch, in Sundorne, and a group of surfers had to rescue him on Porthmadog beach.
His mother Helen, aged 41, was fearful that he would lose the independence he had, as the NHS chair does not allow Thomas to access any grassed area, which meant he was no longer able to walk his puppy.
In desperation Helen contacted Caudwell Children, the national charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, to see if they could help her son.
“They’ve been amazing,” said Helen. “The high to low wheelchair that they said best suited Thomas’s needs came in at a whopping £18,685! Unfortunately, it isn’t funded through the NHS so I was overwhelmed when Caudwell Children said that they would fund 80% of the cost.
“Not only that they also signposted me to other charities and trusts to cover the balance of the wheelchair. When I told Thomas, he simply couldn’t believe it.”
Thomas, a pupil at Lakeland Academy, in Elsmere, has ambitions of becoming a You Tube vlogger when he is older, although he also has interests in science and gaming.
He’s in no doubt about the importance of Caudwell Children’s support to his future development. As he explained: “The wheelchair means that I’ll be able to access more in school again. It will also give me much more independence as it will be able to lift me to about five feet high, so I’ll finally be able to mix with my friends.”
The chair also has excellent driving capabilities and will drive over chipping, soft grassed areas and wet sand. Thomas will also be able to raise himself to the windows in the school doors enabling him to alert teachers when they need to open one for him.
“I’ll also be able to travel outside more and play with my dog, Hollie,” continued Thomas. “It’s going to make a massive difference to my life and that’s why I want to try and raise the money. I want another young person in Shropshire to have a wheelchair like this so that they can do the things that I’ll be able to do.”
Father, Neville, aged 44, says it will also benefit both him and Helen. He said: “Thomas is fast growing into a young man, he’s already taller than his mum and he can be difficult to move.
“The new wheelchair, however, has been designed to tilt so that we will be able to put him in a lying position which will help us to manoeuvre and stretch him, as looking after his posture is vital as he is having huge growth spurts. This would be incredibly difficult to do in his old wheelchair.”
Thomas is urging the business and local community to get behind his fundraising efforts. As he concluded: “I’m really excited about getting my new wheelchair, it’s a dream come true. But I know that there will be others like me out there who also need support.
“I’m appealing to the public to help me make their dreams come true!”
Trudi Beswick, Chief Executive of Caudwell Children, said: “This piece of equipment will improve Thomas’s life immeasurably, helping him to develop both physically, emotionally and academically.
“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 young people like Thomas, giving them the specialist equipment that they so desperately need and deserve.
“I’d urge the public to support Thomas’s appeal.”
You can support Thomas through his Just Giving page here.
You can also make a text donation by texting PEAL61 £3 to 70070.