An energy firm has come to the aid of a Sunderland special school whose pupils and staff were left devastated after a break-in.
A specialist computer - which allowed disabled children to use their eyes to communicate by looking at a picture on screen, to make adults aware they need a drink, require something to eat or are in pain - was stolen last November, from Sunningdale School, in Springwell.
While the computer has now been replaced, Utilitywise employee Sean Gleeson, whose son Oliver attends the school, mentioned the burglary to senior managers at the company, who in turn decided to donate £1,000 to help provide new toys.
Sean, who has worked as an energy consultant at Utilitywise for a number of years, says he is passionate about the school and the level of care the children receive.
Oliver was born prematurely in 2012 with complex heart and lung problems.
Since then he has had 11 open heart operations, a tracheostomy and is profoundly deaf.
Speaking about why he asked for his company’s help, Sean said: “I was disgusted when I heard about the burglary.
“This type of equipment provides a lifeline to the children at Sunningdale, as it ensures that they can communicate their basic needs.
“Oliver receives an amazing level of care from the staff and we as a family are very well supported by the school.
“Utilitywise has always been keen to support Oliver – we have a room at the Freeman Hospital that the company sponsored which is called after him – and I am truly delighted that they wanted to get behind the school. It means a lot to me and my family.”
Headteacher at the school Celia Wright said: “That someone could take such a vital piece of equipment that allowed a child to communicate with staff was beyond comprehension.
“This donation from Utilitywise has really lifted our spirits.
“The money will be used to buy extra toys for the nursery and will provide so much joy for the children.”