Play time for disabled Hemsby youngster after he receives specially built swing

Mathew Townsend (5) suffers from a neurological condition, which means he cannot speak, has bad bala

Mathew Townsend (5) suffers from a neurological condition, which means he cannot speak, has bad balance and struggles to stand up.His grandamother Glenis Townsend, who looks after him, struggled to find a swing that could deal with his needs until she was put in touch with manufacturing charity Remap, which custom made one for him.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

Smiling gleefully with the warm spring air ruffling his hair, little Mathew Townsend is a picture of happiness as he tests out his new specially built swing.

Reg Nichols spent nearly 200 hours building a speical swing for disabled youngster Mathew Townsend,

Reg Nichols spent nearly 200 hours building a speical swing for disabled youngster Mathew Townsend, through his volunteering work with Remap - a charity made up of skilled workers that create or adapt equipment for disabled people.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2013

The disabled youngster suffers from a neurological condition, which prevents him from speaking and unable to stand without help.

He also has little coordination of his legs and arms, poor balance and cannot walk.

But his custom made swing - that has just been installed at his Hemsby home - is now helping him with his mobility, as he learns to use his legs to propel himself backwards and forwards.

The new apparatus, built by volunteers from disability equipment charity Remap, has delighted five year old Mathew and his grandmother Glenis, who he lives with in The Glebe.

Glenis, 63, said: “He absolutely loves it. As soon as you put him in it he’s laughing away.

“I walk him up the (garden) steps and he knows he’s going in the swing and he really chuckles. And where it’s positioned is ideal as I get to be in the sunshine.”

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She had been struggling to find a swing to accommodate Mathew’s needs and after approaching manufacturers and factories, she was eventually put in touch with Remap.

The charity is made up of skilled volunteers who build or adapt equipment to help disabled individuals, tailoring the apparatus specifically to the person.

Reg Nichols, chairman of the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft Remap panel, took on Mathew’s project and spent around 200 hours crafting the swing out of wood, but said it was not a complicated build, just “basic engineering”.

Reg, 82, a former electrical engineer for Birds Eye foods, said: “It had to meet safety standards for one thing and it also had to be the right load bearing for the little lad, and it’s made for him to grow into.

“Mathew’s a lovely little chap and he did enjoy himself in it.”

The front of the swing drops down on hinges, allowing Mathew to be placed in the seat. The front then locks into place and Mathew’s legs fit easily through the holes, but allow him to swing his legs.

Glenis, a retired nursery owner, said this design helped greatly as she struggled to get Mathew into playground swings, which he had to be lowered into.

“I can’t pick him up and thread him through the basket because he hasn’t got the ability in his legs to put them through the holes,” she added. “With this I pull the front down, fit him in, put the front up and he’s away.”

Glenis was extremely grateful to Remap and Reg for their help, and thought the swing was becoming a firm favourite with Mathew, who attends the John Grant School in Caister.

And the swing has not just brought happiness to the Townsend home as Reg said it gave him great satisfaction to see it being used.

He added: “The work with Remap is the most rewarding job I have ever done. I get more satisfaction out of this job than in any other.

“In lots of cases we make the people more independent and it’s a chance to see your hard work paying off.”

? Reg is looking for new members to join Remap. He is appealing for employed or retired engineers, technicians, mechanics and other skilled workers to get in touch. Call him on 01493 728050 to find out more.