Joy for JJ

YOU'VE done it!Yes, disabled youngster JJ Anslow and her schoolfriends are back in the swim – thanks to the generosity of The Evening Star's readers.

YOU'VE done it!

Yes, disabled youngster JJ Anslow and her schoolfriends are back in the swim – thanks to the generosity of The Evening Star's readers.

Donations and fundraising from kind-hearted groups and individuals have raised more than £7,500 to buy JJ's school a special mechanical hoist, which will lift her and its other children in and out of the school swimming pool.

The equipment is already in place at Heathside school in Ipswich and the children will be using it very soon.

With the appeal going so swimmingly, the Star told the school it was confident all the money would be raised very soon – and the school was able to employ contractors quickly to install the machinery.

Heathside head teacher Odran Doran said today: "We are thrilled – it's absolutely fantastic.

Most Read

"JJ and the other children are now back in the swim and that is great news because we know how much swimming means to our children at this school.

"But this equipment is a long-term investment and will be used not just by the pupils who are here today but also those still to come in the future."

The appeal was sparked by the plight of JJ and other pupils who had been unable to play in the pool they love so much because of regulations which prevent staff from lifting them into the water.

The youngsters cannot walk and step into its pool by themselves. For example, JJ – her full name is Jahanara-Joy – suffers from a twisted back and chromosome problems and is unable to walk, talk, or sit, and relies on the staff to place her gently into the water.

But government rules say staff can only lift children up to a certain weight, which means those who are heavier miss out.

The hoist will mean that they can all go swimming again.

JJ's mum and dad, Pat and Bill Anslow, of Tomline Road, Felixstowe said the success of the Evening Star appeal was amazing.

"It's fantastic and we just want to say a great big thank you to everyone involved and to everyone who has contributed to the appeal," said Mrs Anslow.

"We have been very touched by the way so many people have responded and a lot of those people have given what to them was large sums of money. Thank you. JJ's swimming problem started the appeal but so many children will benefit from this equipment."

The appeal has been completed thanks to donations of £2,000 from the Press Ball, and £1,000 from the Lions Club of Ipswich.

The Lions have made a fantastic effort and have also agreed to make up any shortfall in the fund to pay for the equipment when all the fundraising is in.

Public relations officer Bob Bridgman said: "We are thrilled to help the appeal and all the club members were for it – we know how important this will be to the children.

"The club always uses the money it raises for the community and we are delighted to help in any way we can to improve people's lives."

Other donations have come from Felixstowe Christian charity Basic, which gave £1,000, and numerous donations from individuals whose letters told of how they just wanted to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Mr Doran said a hoist had been installed alongside the pool with a sling, while a special wheeled matting transfer chair would be used to take the children to and from the changing rooms.

In both the girls' and boys' changing rooms, a ceiling hoist had been fixed so that when they were dry and dressed they could be lifted back into their wheelchairs.

Once staff were trained how to use the equipment, all children would again be able to take part in swimming sessions.