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The Countess of Wessex visits Whizz-Kidz

Published 2 December 2022

To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities The Countess of Wessex visited Whizz-Kidz, the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users.

The Countess of Wessex has heard first-hand about the life-changing impact of Whizz-Kidz, the UK’s leading charity for young wheelchair users, during a visit to meet some of those supported by the charity.

The event to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities gave Her Royal Highness an insight into Whizz-Kidz' services and activities for young wheelchair users, ranging from yoga classes to workshops in employability skills.

Among those meeting her at the event in Guildford was Charlie Oldfield-Bruton, 11, who was there to take delivery of his new bespoke wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz.

Charlie, from Gosport in Hampshire, was born with a rare genetic syndrome which causes multiple health problems including immobility in almost all of his joints.

He said his new wheelchair would have a ‘massive impact’, giving him far more freedom than he had previously.

“It has power wheels so it will be much easier to get around in than my old wheelchair, which I could only push for a few minutes without getting really tired.”

Her Royal Highness also spoke to McKenzie O’Reilly, 13, who received his first wheelchair from Whizz-Kidz at the age of eight.

A keen sportsman who swims and plays wheelchair tennis, McKenzie, from Gloucester, said: “My Whizz-Kidz wheelchair changed my life. It meant I could be much more independent, getting to places on my own and playing with friends at school.”

Sophie Dearman, Whizz-Kidz' volunteer officer, who has used a wheelchair since the age of 14, spoke about her determination to support other wheelchair-users and their families through her role at the charity.

Sophie, 27, from Llandeilo in South Wales, received a new wheelchair part-funded by Whizz-Kidz in 2020, which she said had given her ‘phenomenal freedom’ compared with her previous mobility equipment.