“I’ve not cried for years and years, but I was so overwhelmed I just couldn’t stop.”
Those are the heartfelt words of Mel Jones whose daughter Amy has severe cerebral palsy and was in desperate need of a new specialised chair.
The 41-year-old had tried for years to save the money needed to buy a specially designed P Pod chair for her seven-year-old daughter.
But as a single mum-of-two it proved an almost impossible task until her community heard of her plight and rallied together to help.
Seven-year-old Amy, from Seaham, has scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and her hip needs to be replaced next month as it dislocates due to the joint being worn down.
“She has Gross Motor Function Classification System level 5 which is the highest level of cerebral palsy.” said Mel.
“She is really like a new born. She has no control of any of her muscles she can’t have anything in her mouth.
“She is wheelchair-bound and she can’t sit up on her own, she has no head control and she’s not verbal so she can’t tell us if she’s in pain.
“I can tell because of her eyes, she communicates with me through her eyes.
“We did test her out in a P Pod chair when we got a quote and she actually smiled so she must have been really comfortable.
“You don’t get a lot of smiles from Amy.”
Now, more than £4,000 has been raised by members at Seaham Conservative Club and local businesses in a bid to raise the money for the chair.
But there was so much support to help Mel, who works part-time as a barmaid at the club, that not only has a new chair been ordered but she will be able to take Amy and eldest daughter Lauren, nine, to Flamingo Land for a well-deserved holiday.
Mel said: “I was absolutely gobsmacked. I’ve tried for years to raise the money, being a single mum with two children I just haven’t been able to.
“I have tried everywhere, lots of different charities for grants and donations but they haven’t been able to help.
“But here you’ve got a community of people who just come in the club and they want to donate.
“I find it hard because I don’t understand why people would want to help me - it’s just so heartwarming.
“I couldn’t stop crying. I’ve not cried for years and years, but I was so overwhelmed I just couldn’t stop.”
The massive fundraiser began after Mel mentioned in passing to her boss, Yvette Adamson, about needing a P Pod chair which will be specially modified to fit Amy’s needs.
The seven-year-old, who attends Hope Wood Academy in Peterlee, was born prematurely and caught meningitis leaving her with a huge range of health problems and can only be fed by a tube into her stomach.
Mel only started working at the club six months ago and says she is overwhelmed that so many people wanted to help her.
Yvette, stewardess at the club, said: “It’s just been amazing. All of the support that we have gotten, our members have been fantastic.
“They’ve just all pulled together.
“Our charity night was fantastic, our local band Stoney Broke gave there time for free. Our vice chairmen Harry Proctor had his head shaved raising £423.
“The money has been donated from our very amazing member and local businesses as well as online the total was £4125 - which pays for the chair for Amy which was just over the £3,000.”
The P Pod chair has been ordered and it will take around six weeks to make adjustments to suit Amy.
Mel has also been able to book a holiday to take Amy and Lauren, who is autistic and suffers from anxiety, on holiday to Flamingo Land next year to stay in a specially adapted caravan.