Charlie is a 13 year old living in a small village on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. Charlie loves superheroes and constantly wants to be dressed up as either Captain America or Spiderman; he even has a cape to wear when he ventures outside. Charlie also enjoys swimming, bowling and eating lots of ice cream. Charlie has Down’s Syndrome and this causes many strains for his parents and sister in their daily lives.

“It can be emotionally and physically draining for both of us as parents, but also his sister who is 18 months older” said mum Ruthanne. “We constantly have to plan ahead for Charlie and all activities have to be suitable for him. For example, we can’t go to places that are too far away or too noisy. It can be like having a teenager and a toddler at the same time, and his sister can’t bring round friends who can’t cope with Charlie, it affects her life physically and emotionally too.”

Ruthanne first heard about Family Fund while working in Cornwall for Contact a Family. They applied for a tricycle for Charlie which could be attached to another bicycle, but could be detached when Charlie wanted to ride independently in a secure area. However, Charlie outgrew the tricycle, so the family applied again in 2015, this time for a tandem bicycle. Both grants have made it easier for the family to go out together and are helping them to keep healthy both physically and mentally.

“With the tandem we can go further than we have previously and now have set bike rides that we can go on together as a family. For example, as Charlie can always be motivated by ice cream, we sometimes cycle to an ice-cream parlour 25 miles away, then cycle back home. We can also take the tandem on holiday with us and go on bike rides while we are away from home. It allows us to do activities without having to consider what Charlie can and cannot do.

“It helps keep Charlie healthy and improves his strength which is vital for helping his hypermobile joints. Plus if we’re having a bad day, we can go for a cycle ride and it can make us all feel better, even If we’re going out in the pouring rain.”