School sets up fundraising group to buy pupil an £8,000 wheelchair
All eight-year-old Alexander Jones-Grech wants is to be able to look his school pals in the eye and move around like everyone else.
But he needs a special wheelchair to do that, so his classmates at St Mary's School, Timsbury, have pledged to help raise the £8,000 needed to give him some independence.
Alexander, who lives in Farmborough with his mum Suzanne, dad Mark and sister Roselyn, five, was born with pseudochondroplasia, a painful form of dwarfism that affects bones and joints.
He was diagnosed aged two when his parents became concerned about his development. It is a progressive condition and his joints are deteriorating.
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Alexander also has osteoarthritis and is waiting to have an operation that will keep his joints working longer, but this will mean him being in a body cast for three to four months.
Added to that he has been diagnosed with a serious condition that gives him double vision unless he looks straight ahead.
His mum said: "He wants to be like anyone else and move around. He wants to be like his friends.
"He has a lovely smile and he doesn't let it get him down but he is in a lot of pain when he moves. He tries to struggle through because he does not want to lose face with his friends."
The family praised the school for its support after parents and staff from St Mary's formed a fundraising group.
Mrs Jones-Grech said: "The school has been so supportive and his friends are great. It's the one place he can go where we know he is safe and we don't have to worry about him."
Radstock and Midsomer Norton Lions have donated £2,000 to the Alexander's New Wheels appeal.
President Richard Munden said: "Our thanks go to the public for their gifts, generosity and donations without which we would be unable to help Alexander in his time of need."
The NHS has acknowledged that Alexander needs a powered wheelchair but will not fund one.
Mrs Jones-Grech said: "It seems we don't meet the criteria for an outside powered wheelchair partly because the school has few single steps and because we do not have an inside powered chair."
The Hippo electric chair the family hopes to buy Alexander has a seat that would enable him to be at a height where he can look straight ahead at his friends instead of up at them.
Fundraisers have entered a team in this year's Bath Half Marathon and are holding a promise and auction evening at the Conygre Hall, in Timsbury, on Saturday, March 17.
Anyone who would like to donate an item for the auction should send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the fundraising appeal visit www. alexandersnewwheels.co.uk.