A Weston-super-Mare-based charity has funded the creation of a sensory garden which has given a local girl a new lease of life.
The family of six-year-old Alannah say they are extremely grateful to the Axentis Michael Charitable Trust, which provided £5,000 for the garden to be created.
Alannah, who lives with parents Andy and Lisa, and 11-year-old sister Ella in Weston Village, is registered blind and has global developmental delay, which means she cannot walk, talk, sit unaided or stand.
Dad Andy said: “All her needs, such as feeding, changing, and bathing, are met by us.”
As Alannah grew older and bigger, it became increasingly difficult to carry her upstairs to wash and sleep, so her family raised some funds, and secured a disabilities facilities grant, to have a downstairs wet room and bedroom built, with lifting hoists.
Andy said: “After the build we were left with a muddy, inaccessible garden. We needed it landscaped to allow Alannah level access so that she can be wheeled into her bedroom.
“We thought she could benefit from her outside space that would meet her sensory needs such as sweet smelling flowers or rustling tall grass, wind chimes and so on.”
Andy contacted the Axentis Michael Trust through a work colleague, and the end result was that the Trust gave £5,000 to allow the landscaping work to be undertaken by Mendip Grounds Maintenance.
He added: “Without this donation, it would have taken us a considerable amount of time to raise the funds, and the work would not be able to take place for a long time.
“But now, the garden has been finished, and Alannah already really enjoys it. When the weather gets better, it will be a wonderful outside space for her to explore, and will significantly enhance her sensory experience.
“It has given us the ease of access to Alannah's room and a new lease of life. She has the freedom to explore her home surroundings and we will all now be able to enjoy our home as a family for many years to come.
“This wouldn't have been possible without the incredible generosity of the Axentis Michael Trust; we are extremely thankful.”
The Axentis Michael Charitable Trust which started life as a small charity memorial to remember and honour the life of local hotelier Axentis Michael, who died in 2003. It raises and distributes funds to worthy causes in the surrounding area.
Alex Demetriou from the Trust, said: “Everyone at the Trust was delighted to be able to help Alannah and her family, who face such challenging circumstances on a daily basis.
“When we visited Alannah it was clear that she was surrounded by a very special family. Andy and Lisa had done unbelievably well fundraising for the internal project and we were all too pleased to help with the external works.
“Ella showed remarkable empathy and compassion for her sister, it was amazing to see and hopefully she will also enjoy the outside space with her sister.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to provide something which will go just a little way to improving the quality of life for Alannah, and to make life that little bit easier for her caring family.”
A major source of income for the Trust is its bi-annual Memorial Ball, which takes place at Weston-super-Mare’s iconic Grand Pier.
The next ball – the eighth – takes place on Saturday, March 3, 2018, and will be attended by a host of celebrities including legendary British boxer Chris Eubank, TV’s ‘Mr Motoring’ Quentin Wilson, former Dragons Den stalwart Theo Paphitis, current Dragons Den investor Deborah Meaden, and fashion designer Jeff Banks.
The last ball, in December 2016, raised more than £250,000, through ticket sales, drinks and an auction.