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Lease of life for Cheltenham student with spina bifida

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: November 20, 2012

New lease of life: Deborah Turville, 20, with dad Howard

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FOR Deborah Turville, a new electric wheelchair means a new lease of life – and it's all thanks to the fundraising efforts of a local social club.

The 20-year-old student, who has spina bifida and is paralysed from the waist down, has been given the wheelchair after Cheltenham Labour Club raised £4,039 to buy it.

She had been using a manual wheelchair, as the electric model is not available on the NHS, and said she found it difficult to get around on her own.

Deborah, who lives in Whaddon, said: "The wheelchair makes a big difference to my life.

"I'm a lot more mobile now. In the manual chair, I struggled to get up and down curbs and worried about falling out.

"I couldn't travel very far on my own because pushing the chair was so difficult.

"Now I'm a lot more independent.

"I can go into town to meet my friends and get around on my own."

Carol Betteridge, assistant steward at the Labour Club in Cheltenham High Street, volunteered to help raise the money for Deborah, who is the step-daughter of her friend Sharon.

She said: "Sharon is in the darts team at the club and we were talking about the money they needed for Deborah's chair, so I said why not raise the money here at the club.

"All the members of the club committee and staff helped organise the events, and everyone did their bit to help."

The club began fundraising at the beginning of May, and more than 100 people took part in events and emptied their pocked for the cause.

Among the fundraising events, the club held were a 12-hour dart playing marathon and a 10-minute jumping marathon.

Deborah, a life skills student at Gloucestershire College, said: "The people at the Labour Club have been absolutely fantastic.

"I am so grateful to them for all they have done, because it has made a big difference to my life."

Spina bifida is a term used to describe a series of birth defects that affect the development of the spine and central nervous system.

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