A 22-MONTH-OLD boy is now able to play with his twin brother thanks to a generous donation by a high street retailer.

Newlife, the charity for disabled children, is benefitting from River Island’s festive fundraising, resulting in a huge boost for families needing specialist equipment across the UK.

Edward Ruta, from Leigh, has been able to play with twin brother George for the first time thanks to the partnership.

Having been born with spina bifida and a tethered spinal cord, Edward is paralysed in his legs and unable to walk.

He also has a Chiari malformation, where the bottom of the brain pushes down into the spinal canal, while cerebrospinal fluid has built up on the brain.

Edward is delayed in his development, has severe hearing loss and a heart murmur.


Fun - Edward has been provided with sensory pods and multi-sensory play adventure pods

He was handed the early Christmas boost when Newlife provided him with sensory pods and multi-sensory play adventure pods.

The toys have made a huge difference to Edward and his family.

Edward’s mum, Katy, said: “The toys have been a godsend. Edward is able to use his hands so much better, he can pick up and move objects, and has developed skills he could not do before we got the pods.

“His physiotherapist uses the specialist toys to help him with his therapy. The way that they have helped him is priceless.


“He has been able to play with his twin brother George, who doesn’t have any disabilities, as he also loves the toys and they can spend quality time together and bond.

“It will be amazing around Christmas and the twins’ birthday, which is Boxing Day, to have toys that allow them to play together.”

The cash raised contribute to the charity’s play therapy service, which loans specialist toys to disabled and terminally ill children.

Newlife has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic but they have still been able to help children like Edward thanks to River Island’s support.


Happy family - Edward sitting with his parents and George ahead of the Christmas period

Sheila Brown, co-founder and chief executive of Newlife, said: “We are so grateful to everyone at River Island and their wonderful customers for the loyal support they have shown Newlife over the last 30 years, and particularly so this Christmas.

“It has been an exceptionally difficult year for the charity but we are delighted that, thanks to River Island asking people to join them in doing something wonderful, we will end the year being able to help so many more families this Christmas.”

Every week we will be unveiling our Charity Champions as we look to champion those who raise much-needed funds for charities across south Essex. To nominate yourself for your own fundraising work or shine a light on a charity, simply complete our online form.