James smiles as he gets comfy in his new wheelchair

HAPPY James Shepherd with his new wheelchair.  Picture: Sarah Standing (120129-2487)
HAPPY James Shepherd with his new wheelchair. Picture: Sarah Standing (120129-2487)

Fire damages Mercedes

Have your say

AFTER waiting for seven months, James Shepherd sits happily in his new wheelchair.

The eight-year-old suffers from angelman syndrome – a rare condition characterised by severe learning difficulties and unsteady or jerky movements.

He was desperate for a new wheelchair because he had outgrown his old one.

It was falling apart and all the straps had fallen off. But the chair cost £1,300 and his parents couldn’t afford to pay for it.

So they applied to the Solent NHS Trust last April. But it was only late last year that the chair finally arrived, after The News highlighted his case.

It came after the family were transferred from the service located in Portsmouth to one in Southampton.

Dad Dave Shepherd, from Cherry Close in Lee-on-the-Solent, said: ‘Once it went to Southampton it went very well. Within about 20 minutes they pulled out the most perfect wheelchair we had ever seen.

‘He’s much happier in it now. He’s more comfortable in it. It’s a nice, big, steady wheelchair.

‘He’s a lot more happy and it’s made all the difference to us.

‘It’s a lot easier to use. It’s made our lives a lot easier.’

And now, Mr Shepherd, 36, is hoping that it’ll send a message to other families with disabled children in a similar position.

‘You have to fight, even if you don’t want to,’ he said.

‘Don’t be afraid to complain. People who just sit there and don’t say anything won’t get it.

‘It’s just the way it is for disabled families and disabled children.

‘It’s not the first time we have had to fight for something. But it’s satisfying to know that it’s finally sorted.

‘James is so comfortable in it. If he’s in the living room he will climb into it and watch TV in it.’

Lin Burton, head of occupational therapy and integrated community equipment services at Solent NHS Trust, said: ‘We are, of course, delighted that we have now managed to provide the right wheelchair for James and that he and his family are happy with the outcome. This followed useful meetings with the family.

‘However, we can only apologise again for the length of time it took to get this right.

‘As we have said before, there were a set of unfortunate circumstance that contributed to the delays.

‘We are fully investigating what went wrong to make sure this does not happen again.’