Charity drive gives disabled teenager a wheelchair

Lee Turner pictured with mum Denise.

Lee Turner pictured with mum Denise.

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A CHARITY drive has raised thousands of pounds to buy a state-of-the-art wheelchair for a disabled teenager.

Lee Turner, 15, is now set for a £2,500 wheelchair thanks to generous East Durham shoppers.

An appeal at the Asda store, in Peterlee, raised £1,362, bringing the amount raised for Lee to £5,000.

Choking back tears, Lee’s mum, Denise, 46 – who found out she had become a grandmother for the first time on the day the total was announced – said: “Thank you everyone. I never expected so much.”

The extra money will be spent on sending Lee, who has the chromosome disorder MECP2 syndrome, to swim with dolphins in Florida, as well as on sensory equipment.

Residents of East Durham have rallied around the Turner family, from Gloucester Place, Peterlee, by arranging events including a sponsored walk, children’s party, race night, a skydive by family friend Tracey Farry and a donation from a Durham Police officer from the motorcycle division.

Denise, who is married to Andrew, a 45-year-old printer, and also mum to Andrew junior, 24, who became a new dad to Freya, said: “In times like these, people haven’t got much money and it just goes to show every penny counts.”

Lee, a pupil at Easington’s Glendene School and Community Arts College, was one of three causes which benefited from Asda’s Community Life charity appeal.

The others, Koguryo Freestyle Peterlee Martial Arts Club, based in Dene Community School, and the South Hetton-based Robin Todd Centre, were awarded £367 and £362 respectively.

Hugh Crawford, Koguryo’s chief instructor, said: “We are taking nine students to Canada to compete in the World Kickboxing Council Championships in October and Asda has been a massive help.”

Robin Todd Centre manager Sandra Heslewood said: “I’m really chuffed.”

A new batch of recipients, who will benefit from donations over the next two months, were unveiled.

These were amputee Sarah Dowson, 22, from Pentland Close, Peterlee, who suffered from bone cancer as a youngster and needs treatment following a fall; the Dene House Park Fund, run by local youngsters who aim to raise £150,000 for an upgrade to the park, in Heath Close; and Haswell and District Mencap, which needs a new minibus and sensory garden.

Sarah’s mum, Janet, 49, married to BHK worker Ray, 51, and also mum to Adam, 24, said: “Sarah lives a normal life, but fell at Christmas and broke her limb.

“I’m really pleased that the store is helping us, especially if we are turned down for treatment by the NHS.”

Michael Fortune, a parent of one of the members of the Dene House Youth Forum, which is pushing for a new park, said: “We are really over the moon with Asda.

“The kids came and asked if any businesses could help and the store is also letting us do some sponsored bag-packing.”

Jean Dixon, charity manager at Haswell and District Mencap, said: “It’s absolutely fabulous that we were chosen as a cause to support, after Claire Cooper, one of our volunteers, nominated us.”

Karen Bell, Asda’s Community Life Champion, said: “I’m absolutely chuffed to bits that we have managed to raise so much.

“People have been so generous and I hope they do exactly the same for the next round of good causes.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho