Whizz-Kidz welcomes HRH The Countess of Wessex

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex heard first-hand about the life-changing impact of Whizz-Kidz's work

The event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities gave Her Royal Highness an insight into Whizz-Kidz' services and activities for young wheelchair users, ranging from yoga classes to workshops in employability skills.

Among those meeting her at the event in Guildford was Charlie Oldfield-Bruton, 11, who was there to take delivery of his new bespoke wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz.

Charlie, from Gosport in Hampshire, was born with a rare genetic syndrome which causes multiple health problems including immobility in almost all of his joints.

He said his new wheelchair would have a ‘massive impact’, giving him far more freedom than he had previously.

“It has power wheels so it will be much easier to get around in than my old wheelchair, which I could only push for a few minutes without getting really tired.”

Her Royal Highness also spoke to McKenzie O’Reilly, 13, who received his first wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz at the age of eight.

A keen sportsman who swims and plays wheelchair tennis, McKenzie, from Gloucester, said: “My Whizz-Kidz wheelchair changed my life. It meant I could be much more independent, getting to places on my own and playing with friends at school.”

Sophie Dearman, Whizz-Kidz' volunteer officer, who has used a wheelchair since the age of 14, spoke about her determination to support other wheelchair-users and their families through her role at the charity.

Sophie, 27, from Llandeilo in South Wales, received a new wheelchair part-funded by Whizz-Kidz in 2020, which she said had given her ‘phenomenal freedom’ compared with her previous mobility equipment.

Sarah Pugh, chief executive of Whizz-Kidz, said: “We were thrilled to welcome Her Royal Highness the Countess of Wessex and very proud to be able to introduce her to some of the young people we support.

“Their experiences demonstrate very powerfully the difference we can and do make for young wheelchair users.

“Sadly, they are also a reminder that too many of the UK’s estimated 75,000 young wheelchair users do not have access to the equipment and support they need to live their lives with as much independence as possible.

“Our vision, which drives all of the work that we shared with Her Royal Highness, is a society in which every young wheelchair user is mobile, enabled and included.

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