Published: 00:01, 05 August 2017
Multiple dreams are coming true all at once for one mum and her family.
Joanne Salt has had quite a few months since the Messenger featured her appeal for help in making the back garden of her home in Pepys Close, Dartford, more suitable for her disabled daughter.
Five-year-old Hannah Taylor has cerebral palsy and her mum wanted her to be able to play safely with brother Freddie Ryall, eight.
Just four months on and that dream has become a reality thanks to children’s charity Friends of Shelby Newstead (FoSN).
Set up in honour of the young cancer survivor of the same name, the charity helps children and their families suffering serious illnesses.
It provided funds for a contractor to work on Miss Salt’s garden, including making the patio more accessible for Hannah’s wheelchair, replacing the grass with artificial turf, and installing a sunken trampoline.
Miss Salt, 30, said: “I cannot thank them enough for stepping in and helping me out. It was great because it took pressure off me and let me focus on the kids. They know how much a small thing can make a big difference to a child with a disability.
“It has been amazing and being able to access that garden and play with her brother without me having to be there with my eyes always on her is going to make such a difference.
“She will be able to enjoy playing like every other child.”
Miss Salt had been inspired by her time volunteering on the DIY SOS project to rebuild Garry and Kyle Ratcliffe’s home on the Isle of Sheppey, so it was suitable for the needs of their four adopted children. The programme aired in June.
But FoSN stepping in streamlined the process and work on the garden started and finished within just a fortnight.
But that isn’t all – Miss Salt and her family are now off to Disney after the Ratcliffes were offered a holiday, and nominated Miss Salt instead.
Following on from their appearance on DIY SOS, charity Fulfil The Wish (FTW) reached out to the Ratcliffes to offer them the trip.
Instead, Garry asked if he could offer it to someone else and chose Miss Salt, with both of her children attending Temple Hill Primary Academy, where Garry is executive head teacher.
The school also raised £1,350 to help pay for the garden work, which was donated to FoSN.
Miss Salt said: “Garry said that he didn’t think it was right for them to take any more charity because they had been so blessed and that they would like to offer the Disney trip to us.
“I thought it was a wind-up. What a selfless thing to do. It’s an amazing opportunity for any parent to take their family to Disney, it’s magical.”
FTW agreed to honour Garry’s proposal and to top it off gave Miss Salt an extra ticket, which she has given to her mum Frances.
She only sees her family in Dartford once or twice a year, so Hannah and Freddie — who call her ‘aeroplane nanny’ — are extremely excited.
Miss Salt continued: “For a single parent like me, flying my mum out here from Belfast is not something I can always afford, but I have saved up to get her here and then she’s coming to Disney with us.
“I am smiling ear to ear about it because I still can’t believe we’re going, that my mum’s coming, and that we’ve got the garden done.”
Landscaping of Miss Salt’s garden was done by Allium by David Stead and construction work was aided by enabling specialists Erith.
Playcubed provided the artificial turf, which was installed by Carrick Landscapes, and new fences were put up by Tate Fencing.
Sally Newstead, mum of Shelby from Culverstone and one of the FoSN charity’s founders, now wants to top it off by having a summerhouse built at the back.
“If anyone can help out or give their time, just to finish the garden off, it would be the icing on the cake,” she said.
“We have got a bit of money to do it, so if anyone could help out that would amazing.”
To offer your help or donate materials, contact Mrs Newstead on 07540 816553.
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