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Dad supports Surrey charity this Father's Day

5 minute read
Dad supports Surrey charity this Father's Day

Published by Lettie Buxton at 6:00am 21st June 2020.

A dad of a severely disabled two-year-old boy is supporting a Surrey charity, as today marks Father's Day (21 June).

Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), based in Leatherhead, is now facing an uncertain future because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on its fundraising and donations.

The charity says it still needs to raise £500,000 by September if they are to continue their work providing services to adults and children with disabilities or acquired brain injuries.

In a bid to support this, they have launched the ‘Survive and Thrive’ appeal.

Survive and Thrive appeal launch

QEF usually supports more than 6,000 disabled children and adults every year, enabling them to develop key skills, increase their mobility, maximise their independence and receive life changing support from its neurorehabilitation team.

Chief Executive of the charity, Karen Deacon said if they can bridge the gap in their funding, they can ensure a "positive future" for both the charity and those who rely on its services:

"In January this year we were financially stable and looking forward to opening our new Care and Rehabilitation Centre and celebrating our 85th anniversary – a huge milestone in any charity’s life – but now  like many others, we are struggling to keep our services going.

"This is not business as usual and we have been changing our approach to try and combat the financial losses we have suffered.

"Since March we have done everything we can to maximise self-help first, before asking for money; prioritising our essential, front line services to support the most vulnerable people, furloughing more than 100 staff, temporarily closing three vital mobility services and launching new virtual fundraising activities but it just hasn’t been enough.

"We are launching this appeal now as we need help to ensure our expert services can survive, so that the disabled people that rely on us can thrive.

"We really value all the support the Surrey community has given QEF in the past, but we need them now more than ever."

The charity had to temporarily close its three mobility focused services in March, resulting in 165 mobility and driving assessments being cancelled.

This included subsidiary charity MERU which provides the Bugzi loan scheme for young disabled children under five years old.  

Bugzi is a small indoor powered wheelchair for young children with complex mobility challenges, offering them independence and allowing them to move around more freely.

Two-year-old Jude Morgan-Stopps, who due to complications at birth suffers from a number of neurological and physical conditions, is one of those children who has not been able to receive his Bugzi.

He has cerebral palsy, an autonomic dysfunction - which means he cannot regulate his body temperature so is always cold - and a visual sensory impairment and a processing disorder, in which the brain has difficulty receiving and responding to information that comes through the senses.

After he was born his parents were told he wouldn’t survive, so they spent the fifth day in intensive care saying goodbye to him.

But, Jude's dad James Stopps said when he was taken off the ventilator he took a few breaths "and then never stopped breathing".

James told Eagle Radio about how he will be marking Father's Day with Jude:

"During the first few days with him in intensive care, I read Roald Dahl to him.

"So I was thinking that perhaps I'll pick up the same book that I thought I'd read to him for the first and last time ever, and try and read it to him again.

"We read Danny the Champion of the World, which is all about a boy and his dad, so I thought it'd be a wonderful thing to read again.

"It's quite scary to think that a charity like the QEF, MERU the subsidiary and some of the other ones that we rely on might not survive this crisis.

"We obviously appreciate it's an incredibly difficult time for everybody, but I think it would be amazing if they could consider children like Jude and their families, and provide whatever support that they can."

The charity is set to host of fundraising activities over the next few months, including The Big Ride or Stride, a virtual bike ride and walking event, as well as the Queen Tea event, where there will be the opportunity to win a virtual tea party with celebrities.