Sadly in 2014 the Gathimba Edwards Foundation lost one of our most loyal supporters. Neil Jaffrey was tragically killed when cycling along Anderson Drive in Aberdeen on the 7th of September. 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.
Neil’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 which bought some of the materials for our volunteers to build a house for the Gathigia family in Iruri, Kenya in October 2015.
Pastor John, his wife Agnes and 22 children at the Pavilion Village were so touched by the Jaffrey’s gesture that they named the road leading up to the children’s home ‘Neil Jaffrey Road’.
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 £25,000 to support 3 individual children with disabilities, living in Scotland. Although our focus is to provide support and create opportunities for kids in Kenya, it is very important that we also make as big of difference as possible at home too. We do this by purchasing specific support or equipment for individual children with funds from our biennial dinner and various other fundraising initiatives in the 2 year periods between GEF dinners; including 10% of all corporate donations.
The beneficiary of the initiative in 2015 was a family who have inspired so many people around them with their love and determination to support their son, who was born in 2011 with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. Seeing the way they faced challenges together, researched the condition and work tirelessly to ensure their son has the best possible care is a huge inspiration to us and it has been a great pleasure to be able to support them.
Matthew James Dyer, who was born in 2011, is not able to sit up unaided, is completely immobile and will always be a wheelchair user. His cerebral palsy affects his co-ordination, ability to communicate, vision and ability to move and support his own body. This in turn can lead to various health complications, including problems with his hips and spine.
Despite the challenges which Matthew faces on a daily basis, he remains the smiliest little boy with absolute determination. Matthew see’s his physio, occupational therapist and speech therapist most weeks, and his parents Mel and Luke are hugely grateful for the support they have received from his team of specialists. Despite this excellent networking of support, sadly a lot of the essential equipment needed to support MJ 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. Matthew was measured for and supplied with a special needs tricycle which now 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.
Since Matthew was 18 months old, he has had huge benefit from attending sessions at the Craighalbert Centre in Cumbernauld. The centre provides therapy and support for young people affected by cerebral palsy and motor impairments. Trips to the centre have been great for Matthew and his parents and they have met families with whom they share a common ground and been able to share experiences, which has been a real comfort for them both. MJ’s progress through trips to the centre has been huge. He has gotten more comfortable with being handled and is now more secure and happy during physio sessions. It has allowed Mel and Luke to be close to him and interact during important treatments.
Thanks to the incredible support we received at our fundraising dinner on 21st February 2015, we were able to donate £1,362 to Matthew’s family which went towards the custom built tricycle and sessions at the CraigHalbert Centre.
On September 5th 2015, Myles, Mat, Jason, John and Luke cycled 300 miles through Scotland’s 5 major cities raising over £10,000 for MJ’s care costs. This will give his parents, Luke and Mel, a realistic chance of being able to communicate with their son thanks to an Eye-Gaze computer which costs around £14,000. More info and the donation link can be found here – www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/cyclingformj
At our February 2017 dinner the award was presented to Mintlaw based youngster Tyler White. The inspirational two and a half year old, who suffers from spina bifida, received a specialised bath seat and up seat/walker thanks to sponsorship from the Westhill and District Roundtable group. In addition to this a, a lovely couple donated £1,000 which bought Tyler the below custom bicycle and there was an anonymous donation of £6,000 from a local company to enable us to purchase more support items for Tyler – more info to follow. Currently, as of September 2019, his family are considering an electric wheelchair for him.
The 2019 award of support through the NJI was sponsored by the Westhill and District Roundtable group for a second year and a cheque for £750 presented to the Munro family from Aberdeenshire.
Evie suffers from cerebral palsy, severe dystonia and resistant epilepsy which brings huge challenges to her and her family. We have had the pleasure of getting to know them as part of of our Neil Jaffrey Award. 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 want to focus on areas of Evie’s life that we can have a positive impact on right now as many other areas such as her seating are so complex it is going to take time to find the right solution.
Including £1,250 raised via the dinner (£500) and Westhill and District Roundtable (£750) we have so far managed to raise £7,512 for Evie which has gone towards the building an outdoor play facility at their home as well as other items such as a walking harness and therapeutic bath. Not only Evie loves this play facility but so does her little brother Jake. This is so important to the family as getting out and about is so difficult due to Evie’s seating issues and the fact it takes both her parents to travel for safety. Being able to have fun in their own home and garden without having to travel is so important and has the biggest impact.
There is still more equipment we would like to purchase for Evie and we hope to reach our £10,000 target in the coming months; should you wish to donate please click here.