Sadly on 7th September 2014 the Gathimba Edwards Foundation lost one of our most loyal supporters in Neil Jaffrey when he was tragically killed whilst cycling in Aberdeen. Neil, more commonly known as ‘Eddie’, really was one of a kind. He had a unique ability to take an interest in everyone he met and help them wherever possible.
Constantly inspired and driven on by Neil’s memory we as a foundation wanted to keep his memory alive in as many ways as possible. The Neil Jaffrey Initiative was born in 2015 and has since enabled us to fund raise over £27,000 to support children with severe disabilities living in Scotland.
Although our main purpose is to provide support and create opportunities for children in Kenya, it is very important that we also make an impact at home. We do this through the purchase of specialist equipment and service support for children and their families.
Families in need of support are identified to us through specialist schools, teachers and support workers.
Meet some of the children we have been able to help
MJ was born in 2011 with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. This means that he is unable to sit up unaided, is completely immobile and will always be a wheelchair user. His cerebral palsy affects his co-ordination, vision, ability to communicate or move his own body. This in turn leads to various health complications, including problems with his hips and spine.
His parents Mel and Luke have inspired so many people with their love and determination to support their son. Witnessing how they face challenges together, research the condition and work tirelessly to ensure their son has the best possible care has given us huge inspiration and made it a pleasure to support them.
In the face of the challenges which MJ faces on a daily basis, he remains full of smiles and determination. He sees a physio, occupational therapist and speech therapist most weeks – something his parents are hugely grateful for. Despite this excellent networking of support, sadly a lot of the essential equipment MJ needs is very expensive.
With easy and fun activities limited for them to do as a family, we wanted to do what we could do increase those opportunities. MJ was measured for and supplied with a special needs tricycle which gives them the chance to be outdoors together knowing he is fully supported whilst also encouraging him to move his legs and have fun with it seeming like less hard work. Adaptations were also made to their home so that MJ has proper access and a bedroom suitable for his needs. A wet room was also installed to make shower time easier.
We also provided funding for MJ to attend therapy sessions at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld. The centre provides therapy and support for young people affected by cerebral palsy and motor impairments. MJ has had huge benefit from the sessions and they have met families with whom they share a common ground. It has given them the opportunity to share experiences – something which has been a big comfort for them. MJ has become more comfortable with being handled and is now more secure and happy during physio sessions. Mel and Luke have also been able to be close to him and interact during important treatments.
Tyler is an inspirational young boy who suffers from spina bifida. So far we have supported Tyler with a specialised bath seat and up seat/walker thanks to sponsorship from the Westhill and District Roundtable group. In addition to this we have been able to purchase the below custom built bicycle for him to whizz around. When the time is right for Tyler we intend to purchase an electric wheelchair for him.
Little Evie sadly left us and heaven gained an angel on 28th November 2021. Evie suffered from cerebral palsy, severe dystonia and resistant epilepsy which brought huge challenges to her and her family. We have had the pleasure of getting to know them since first meeting in 2018. The love, patience, happiness and reluctance to ask anyone for help humbled and inspired us to do something to make their lives a little easier.
We focused our support on areas of Evie’s life that we could make an immediate positive impact on. With support from Westhill and District Roundtable funds were provided for a walking harness, therapeutic bath and materials and equipment that Evie’s dad Craig used to build an outdoor play facility at their home. Not only Evie loved this play facility but so does her little brother Jake. It was so important to the family as getting out and about was extremely difficult due to Evie’s seating and feeding challenges and the fact it took both Craig and her mum Lynne to travel for safety. Being able to have fun in their own home and garden without having to travel was crucial. We will never forget Evie and the impact she had on this world and our thoughts are always with Craig, Lynne and Jake.
A legacy of love
Neil Jaffrey’s family gave us the incredible honour of donations from his funeral going to the children we are supporting in Kenya and thanks to the generosity of everyone who came to say goodbye to Neil, over £1,800 was raised. This enabled us to buy some of the materials for our volunteers to build a house for the Gathigia family in Iruri, Kenya in October 2015.
A road leading up to the Pavilion Village children’s home in Karatina, Kenya has been named in memory of Neil. This was thanks to the children and staff at the home being so touched by the Jaffrey family’s support.