A COUPLE with eight boys are fundraising for help to buy a vital piece of safety equipment for one of the youngest.
Aidan Nicholson - the seventh of eight brothers - was diagnosed with a brain tumour aged 18 months and, as a result, developed hydrocephalus and epilepsy.
Now aged five, Aidan has needed three major operations to save his life and for medical reasons sleeps in a hospital-style bed at his home on Lingfoot Crescent in Jordanthorpe, Sheffield.
But its low side rails make night-time safety an increasing worry for his mum Helen Barker, 38, and dad Paul Nicholson, 40.
Now children’s disability charity the Newlife Foundation is spearheading the family’s appeal for funding to buy a more suitable specialist cot bed - which costs £3,328.
The little lad shares family life with his seven brothers - Andrew, aged 23, Craig, 21, Simon, 18, Jordan, 17, Ashley, 16, Benjamin, 15, and baby of the family Charlie, two.
Helen told The Star: “Aidan is a very special little boy who plays an active role in the family life and we are aiming, as much as possible, for him to be encouraged to do things for himself.
“Even though Aidan has several disabilities it does not stop him from being a cheeky, outgoing little boy.
“He loves to listen to music, dance and make jokes.
“He is always smiling and makes everyone around him smile.”
Helen said the family are lucky enough to have some medical equipment provided to them by Sheffield primary care trust.
“Funding provides a communication aid and a powered wheelchair, both of which have enabled Aidan to become more inclusive within the family and in community life.
“But PCT funding is limited,” said Helen, who added a new bed for Aidan was an increasingly pressing priority. Parents like us are having to go to charities for help - and because more families are doing the same thing the money available is being spread more thinly,” she said.
“Although Aidan’s movement is limited he is able to pull himself up on his current bed using the rails, and we worry that he will fall out of bed. His epilepsy is another factor. A bed with deep cot sides would prevent him from climbing or falling out and would enable us as parents to sleep a little bit easier.
“The bed would also be height-adjustable which would allow us to care for him at a more workable level.”
Aidan, who will be six in July, first showed signs of health problems in 2007 when he suddenly stopped walking and talking. Scans revealed a tumour in the centre of his brain which needed 10 hours of surgery the next day.
But, said Helen, “life isn’t all doom and gloom”.
Aidan is enjoying being a Year One pupil at Woolley Wood Special School in Shiregreen, and his mum added: “His diagnosis is extremely rare. We like to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives.”
Any money raised through the Newlife Foundation surplus to Aidan’s requirements will be used to help other disabled and poorly local children. The charity is currently raising funds for three disabled children in South Yorkshire, and seven in Derbyshire, who require over £27,000 worth of specialist equipment.
Call 01543 462 777 to donate.