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Cambridge college launch crowdfunding appeal for new student wheelchair

Thomas Grice - who needs a new wheelchair
Thomas Grice - who needs a new wheelchair

College wants help for student Thomas Grice

Staff at Cambridge Regional College have launched a £25,000 crowdfunding appeal to help buy a student a new wheelchair.

Thomas Grice was born three months premature, weighing 2lbs 7oz. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy spastic quadriplegia, which affects his posture control and all four limbs.

Thomas, 20, is unable to walk and is dependent on his wheelchair. He has been using his current one since he was 11 and now desperately needs a new power wheelchair.

The current chair is too small, does not support Thomas properly, and has a poor driving position.

Special education needs facilitator Louisa Marnoch, who helped to launched the appeal, said: “He’s in physical pain every day because of his wheelchair. It’s put him back because his body has become distorted to use it.”

Thomas ideally needs a Permobil standing power chair, which has been recommended by both his physiotherapist and his wheelchair therapist. But there is no funding available for this type of chair.

Louisa said: “Last year we became aware that Thomas needed a new wheelchair but because of his age, funding from the government is just not there.”

Thomas turns 21 on Friday (May 26) and there are concerns that his ongoing progress is being hindered by his current chair.

“All the kind of things he needs to be able to do, such as being able to stretch and stand up – he can’t do. If you don’t use it, you lose it, so he’s deteriorating quickly,” explained Louisa.

Thomas and his family have been heavily involved in the fundraising campaign and so far £6,500 has been raised.

His mother Christine Grice said: “Thomas is a very happy, charismatic young man and always remains positive throughout his difficulties, enduring many operations including major spinal surgery.

“His condition will never improve but having a power chair will make all the difference and will be an essential part of Thomas’ life.”

Supporters have already completed a half marathon in aid of the appeal, with one fundraiser walking 26,000 steps for 26 days for the cause.

On Friday, June 16, a Black and Bling evening will be held at The Park Restaurant at the college.

The event will feature a four-course meal, guest speakers and a small auction. Tickets cost £25 and all profits go to the fund.

Email lmarnoch@camre.ac.uk, adixon@camre.ac.uk or kfox@camre.ac.uk for tickets.

To find out more about the appeal search Gricey’s Wheelchair Fund on Facebook or @Griceyfund on Twitter. Donations can be made at justgiving.com/crowdfunding/GriceyFund.

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