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Hindhead parents thank those who helped fund powered wheelchair for three-year-old daughter

4 minute read
Hindhead parents thank those who helped fund powered wheelchair for three-year-old daughter

Published by Lettie Buxton at 6:00am 16th May 2020.

A family from Hindhead have thanked those people and charities who have donated towards a state-of-the-art powered wheelchair for their three-year-old daughter.

Lily Palmer has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a degenerative condition that makes the muscles weaker and restricts mobility.

Lily is a permanent wheelchair user but her manual wheelchair, and the powered wheelchair that she currently uses, are no longer suitable for her as they are unsafe on uneven surfaces.

The battery on the powered wheelchair also runs out quickly.

Lily Palmer
Lily in her current Wizzybug powered wheelchair, loaned through Bath-based charity Designability

Lily is currently at Brook Nursery School, near Godalming, but she will be starting at Hollycombe Primary School, in Milland, in September.

Tamara, aged 36, together with her 37-year-old husband, Nick, researched which powered wheelchair would meet Lily’s needs, but discovered there was a significant financial barrier as it cost £24,668.

However, the wheelchair could last her into adulthood, as they can replace the chair as she grows.

It also lifts up and down, allowing Lily to eat at a table, look into shop windows without being carried by her parents, and open and close doors.

Lily Palmer
Lily trying out a demo model of her new powered wheelchair

The couple approached a local wheelchair voucher service, but were told that the scheme had closed because they were changing providers.

Meanwhile a number of other charities said that they were no longer giving grants because of the current coronavirus pandemic.

They were told about Caudwell Children, a national charity which provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families, and applied for funding.

Tamara told Eagle Radio about their struggle to raise the money:

"Lily's condition is progressive and if she doesn't use certain skills then she won't be able to use them.

"No one can tell her SMA to stop wasting her muscles because there's lockdown.

"So the sooner she gets the wheelchair and she tries to be more active in her environment, the better.

"I was really upset.

"I just crawled into the bed and cried, and I didn't even get out for two days.

"I was so crushed.

"And then I got the letter through from Caudwell that they were actually still open and they were going to still fund us and it just meant so much to us."

When they found out, Tamara said they put music on and "danced around the sitting room", adding she felt like "something is finally going right".

Nick said they "can't thank them enough", as the charity offered to pay nearly £20,000.

They also set up a gofundme page and applied to several other charities for support, with the Melanie Braysher Trust, based in Haslemere, Over The Moon, in Chiddingfold, and Peter Allis Masters, in Hindhead, contributing £5,000 between them.

Mark Bushell, from Caudwell Children, said he is delighted that the charity could support Lily and described it as a "real community effort with four charities, family, friends and members of the public coming together to ensure that Lillian gets the equipment that she needs and deserves".

The fundraising will also allow the family to insure and fund maintenance for the wheelchair, as well as providing Lily with even more support.

They hope to buy a puppy once the COVID-19 pandemic is over, which they will train to act as a service dog for Lily,

Mark added the new powered wheelchair will improve Lily’s quality of life immeasurably as it will make many more things accessible to her:

"She will be at the same eye level as her peers and she’ll be able to do so many more things for herself.

"Unfortunately, these highly specialised pieces of equipment come at a price, so it’s extremely heartening to see how, even in these unprecedented times, the people and charities involved have given so generously.

"With the continued support of local communities we can help even more children like Lillian."

Lily's new wheelchair is currently being custom-made in Germany.