12 Mar Namco Family Event
FAMILIES were bowled over by The Chronicle’s Sunshine Fund’s idea to give disabled children a great day out with the help of Namco Funscape at Intu Metrocentre in Gateshead.
Delighted youngsters enjoyed free bowling there at the weekend while parents took a break from their everyday challenges thanks to the charity which provides specialist equipment for local kids with disabilities and life-limiting conditions.
And it also proved a chance to get together and talk about the next step in charity’s fund-raising campaign which sees them involved in the £50,000 Go Bananas Appeal – which is asking everyone to “go bananas” in aid of the charity – and The Sunshine Run coming up in the summer.
Namco hosted members of four families free of charge and among them was Claire Stallard, from Washington, who said two-year-old son Harley had benefitted hugely from the charity and had fun on the day out.
“The kids loved it!” she said.
The Sunshine Fund funded a tricycle last year for Harley, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to help with his fitness and disability and mum Claire, who is in training with her husband and other family members to take part in The Sunshine Run, said: “It has impacted on our family a lot.
“They supported Harley to have his very own trike so he can play with other kids on their bikes which means the world to him.
“We’ve also been on day trips out meeting new people. We, as a family, have enjoyed every trip.”
Other equipment purchased by the charity last year included a portable hoist for Cameron Heeley from Chester-le-Street who has epilepsy and scoliosis and, at 15, was proving a struggle to lift.
The hoist now means he can continue to enjoy family caravan holidays and Joanne Heeley said: “The Sunshine Fund lived up to its name and allowed us to enjoy the sunshine at our caravan as a family.
“The hoist we were provided with meant that our family holiday was much less stressful as we could move safely and comfortably.
“We’re hoping to arrange a concert with the North East Concert Band and Voices choir from our daughter’s new school to help with fund-raising for Go Bananas.”
The June appeal has a target of £50,000 so members are all-out to boost the coffers with a range of ideas.
The Sunshine Fund’s Julieanne Kelly said: “We are so happy that our families are helping by raising money so we can support more children with disabilities in the area.
“We have families taking part in the Sunshine Run on June 24, some are organising bake sales at work, others are having raffles.
“Everyone is coming together in whatever way they can which is just what we need to reach our target.”
The family day out was a great start to an upcoming programme which will take advantage of the better weather.
“We would like to thank Namco Funscape for the bowling; our families had a great time,” added Julieanne.
“It was so much fun and seeing the children enjoying themselves was fantastic!”
Charity colleague Caroll Pattison added: “The children managed really well. Some hadn’t been bowling before so it was a super way for them to try it.
“It was lovely to see the families relaxed and having fun away from their everyday challenges at home.”
Nikki Nichol, from Namco Funscape, said: “We were delighted to be able to support The Sunshine Fund by giving them a few lanes for their families to have a nice Sunday morning get-together.
“The Sunshine Fund do great things for children with disabilities and we were happy that we could help. We wish them all the luck with their Go Bananas Appeal.”
Caroll, who is also in training for the run, thanked families who are coming up with other fund-raising plans, including having a “Yellow Day” in the charity’s colour.
“Many said they would ask their employers if they could have a bake sale, or raffle or Yellow Day,” she said.
“We also have a local nursery, where two of our children attend, taking part in Go Bananas who are organising a Yellow Day raising money for the charity.”
The appeal invites everyone to do something for the charity and current plans have something to grab everyone’s interest, from a nursery toddle or pamper day to a comedy night or fashion show, even Hadrian’s Wall walks.
Already 50 fund-raisers have signed up to The Great North Run and there are places available for more – with the offer of an end-of-race massage and refreshments in the charity marquee for those offering to fill them.
The charity is asking local schools to support it with a fund-raising or dress-down day in June with plans to feature their photographs in The Chronicle throughout the month.
And it is also hoping for a highly visible show of support.
Caroll said: “We are asking everyone in the North East to wear yellow on June 12, donate £2 and send the pictures to us. There will be prizes for the best photos.”
Anyone keen to get involved in the fund-raising can find out more details at www.sunshine-fund.org or by calling 0191 201 6289.