New lease of life for Peterborough girl after charity and retailer team up

Frances in her wheelchair
Frances in her wheelchair
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A girl from Peterborough has been given a new sense of independence thanks to a partnership between a retailer and a charity.

Five-year-old Frances Carpenter is getting around quicker thanks to a powered wheelchair donated by Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children.

Being able to provide the equipment to Frances is extremely rewarding.

Emma Burrell, M&S Peterborough store manager

Frances, who is a pupil at Yaxley Infant School in Peterborough, has congenital merosin deficient muscular dystrophy.

It causes progressive muscle weakness and means that Frances is unable to stand or walk independently.

Previously, Frances had been using a manual wheelchair at home and school.

However, this left her unable to move unassisted for long distances which made it difficult to play with her friends both in and out of school.

The wheelchair cost £8,620, and Frances’ family had already received £2,316 from their local wheelchair services and £600 through a sponsored walk kindly organised by her school.

The outstanding amount needed to purchase the wheelchair was provided by a partnership between Newlife and Marks & Spencer, and means that Frances has now got more freedom and join in with more fun activities with family and friends.

Frances’ mum, Michelle Carpenter, said: “Frances loves her new wheelchair and learnt how to get around in it very quickly.

“It’s fantastic to see her playing with friends and taking part in activities that other children her age take for granted, without having to rely on an adult to push her around.”

Marks & Spencer has worked in partnership with the Newlife charity for the last 11 years, donating returned products to the charity to be resold or recycled.

The majority of the donated products are sold in the Newlife SuperStore in Cannock and the charity recycles the remaining items to raise money for children with disabilities.

In October 2010, Marks & Spencer launched a grants scheme, which has specifically helped fund 193 pieces of essential equipment, totalling £581,391.94 for disabled children across the UK.

Emma Burrell, Marks & Spencer Peterborough store manager, said: “Being able to provide the equipment to Frances is extremely rewarding for our team and it’s great to hear what a positive impact it has had.

“Our partnership with Newlife is not only great for the environment, but it also helps to improve the lives of disabled children by providing much-needed specialist equipment.”

Sheila Brown, chief executive of Newlife Foundation, said: “Our partnership with Marks & Spencer benefits hundreds of children and their families.

“It is very encouraging to see the efforts of Marks & Spencer in helping to improve the lives of disabled and terminally ill children within the local community and across the UK.

“Equipment that costs hundreds to several thousands of pounds really can revolutionise lives.

“We are very grateful to everyone involved and would encourage other groups and individuals to keep fundraising to help us make a difference.”

Newlife is the UK’s leading children’s disability charity that works closely with families to provide a range of services and essential equipment for children with disabilities and life-limiting conditions across the UK.