A WREXHAM mum and her severely disabled son are calling on romantic shoppers to show their soft side and support a Valentine’s Day initiative which is raising vital funds for a charity they would ‘be lost without’.
Jordana Farrow, 36, and her 14-year-old son Callum, who has cerebral palsy and a movement disorder known as dystonia, are hoping loved-up couples will come out in force for Eagles Meadow shopping centre’s ‘Love Locks’ event in aid of Dynamic, a centre for children and young people with disabilities.
Shoppers are invited to pick up a free padlock from 11am-4pm on February 13 and 14, personalise it and then attach it to the Wrexham shopping centre’s Love Locks Bridge in return for a donation to the charity’s team members who will be there on both days.
The Valentine’s Day fundraiser kickstarts a year-long fundraising drive for the Hightown-based Dynamic centre which is Eagles Meadow’s chosen charity for 2020.
Jordana, who lives in Overton, says Dynamic is a lifeline for both her and wheelchair user Callum as it offers him independence in a safe environment and enables her to spend some quality time with her husband Michael, 36, and their two other children – son Oscar, eight, who has autism, and daughter Rowen, five.
She said: “Callum absolutely loves it. Over the last 18 months or so the teenage hormones have been kicking in and this provides him with the only independence he has, and he loves that.
“He gets a lot out of it. He is with his peers, is having fun, and he doesn’t have mum and dad over his shoulder. For us that’s massive, to have somewhere he can do that and not have to worry about whether they’re going to look after him.
“The staff are absolutely brilliant and love him to death. It also gives us a break. I love Callum but it’s exhausting.
“We can use the time to spend it with Oscar and Rowen, even if it’s just to go for tea. We don’t have to worry about whether there is wheelchair access or changing facilities.
“We think the padlock idea for Valentine’s Day is brilliant. Pink is also Callum’s favourite colour so it’s the perfect event for us to champion. Hopefully people will come down and make a donation.
“It does make a big difference. This is our experience but there are so many other families in the same boat as us. We’d be lost without Dynamic.”
Asked what his favourite part of Dynamic is, Callum replied: “All of it! I like it because it’s great. I enjoy being with my friends and all the staff.”
Oana Mocanasu, Marketing Manager for Eagles Meadow, said: “What better time than Valentine’s Day to spread some love and help such a fantastic charity in the process?
“I’d urge shoppers to get behind our Love Locks event because not only is it a really romantic gesture, it’s also supporting a cause that brings happiness and fulfilment to so many children and young people, like Callum.
“I’m also thrilled that our Love Locks event signals the start of a year-long fundraising effort for Dynamic. Eagles Meadow will be doing everything it can during 2020 to support the charity’s life-enhancing work.”
Dynamic, which was set up in 1995, is partially funded by Wrexham Council and needs around £200,000 a year to stay open.
The charity provides out of school care and training for children aged between eight and 19, living with a range of disabilities and physical and emotional impairments.
Laura Williams, Charity Manager of Dynamic, said: “A little over half of our costs are covered through grant funding so it’s always a massive challenge to find the remainder ourselves, which is why we’re so grateful to Eagles Meadow for supporting us with brilliant events like this.
“We have already had such amazing support from the team and shoppers here, when they raised £3,000 for us over the festive period. So to find out we have their ongoing support has really made our hearts sing!
“We are a unique service within North Wales and we never see disability as a barrier. We ensure all our children and young people can have fun with their friends, in the same way any other mainstream child or young person can.
Callum, who attends St Christopher’s special school in Wrexham, was born at just 25 weeks, weighing a mere 1lb 12oz, and spent 16 weeks at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Jordana said: “He arrived very, very early but did well considering he was so tiny. But then he became very poorly with a chest infection at six weeks old.
“On two occasions they called us in because they didn’t think he’d make it through the night. But Callum is made of stern stuff.
“He recovered and eventually came home after 16 weeks in SCBU. He came home on oxygen and was tube fed but came off the oxygen quite quickly.
“Then as he started to get bigger he started to miss developmental milestones from a physical point of view. He didn’t roll over or pull himself up on furniture.
“But cognitively he was fine. He babbled, he was chatty and smiley, and you could see he took things in and enjoyed stuff. He was eventually diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months of age.
“When he was born nothing showed up on brain scans so to hazard a guess the damage must have been caused by the low oxygen saturations he suffered during the chest infection.
“Looking back it was a frightening time when he arrived. Me and Michael were only 22 so we were quite young. There was nothing we could do, he was just a little dot and we had to hope for the best.”
Callum has been faced with adversity his whole life and spent most of his childhood in and out of hospital, but he has always bounced back much to the continuing amazement of his family.
Jordana said: “Throughout his early life he’s had to put up with one thing or another. We were told by the doctors that we would be in for a rough ride with his chest, particularly over winter.
“And in those first couple of years we were in and out of hospital and Callum was living on antibiotics. Then when his brother went to nursery he brought home a bug that ended up with Callum in intensive care.
“His body was retaining sodium and the levels were through the roof. They told us his sodium levels were technically enough to kill an adult. I’m not sure how he made it through but he did. He’s unbelievable that kid!
“Unfortunately when Callum was six he developed dystonia. In basic terms it means he suffers from extreme muscle spasms.
“Able bodied people can have it but it tends to be isolated to one muscle group. Callum developed it in his arms, chest, neck and back. It’s quite severe, as if he doesn’t have enough on his plate.
“About five years ago he had a major brain operation in London to have a deep brain stimulation device fitted to combat the dystonia.
“It’s made a subtle difference and it’s easier for him to bring it back under control whereas before his quality of life was going down the pan. Dystonia had the better of him.
“It was eight hours of surgery but what happened after sums up the strength of Callum. Me and my dad went to see him in recovery and he had a bandage over his head and covering his eyes.
“We asked if he was OK and he opened his eyes and said to his grandad ‘get this stupid hat off me!’. We just couldn’t stop laughing. That sums our Callum up, he’s so strong.”
For more information on the Love Locks event, helping to raise money for Dynamic at Eagles Meadow, go to http://www.eagles-meadow.co.uk/whats-on/events.html
For more information about Dynamic, go to www.dynamicwrexham.org.uk or Facebook @DynamicWrexhamCenter