CHRISTMAS has come early for a Ballygowan family after they hit their fundraising target for a life-changing wheelchair.

Natalie Hampton was left speechless earlier this month when an anonymous businessman came forward to meet the shortfall of her fundraising efforts for her daughter’s new wheelchair.

For the last few months, the loving mother has been organising fundraising events in a desperate attempt to raise over £21,000 for a wheelchair that will allow her house-bound 16 year-old daughter, Natasha, a new lease of life.

With just over £10,000 raised from her own fundraising efforts, Natalie set her sights on having the full total in time for Natasha’s birthday in March.

However she was completely stunned when a businessman, who wishes to remain anonymous, came forward with the remaining £11,679, just in time for Christmas.

For the last four years, Natasha has been unable to leave her house for more than an hour at a time.

Natasha, who has a rare chromosome disorder which has left her immobile and non-verbal, was left with a life-changing injury to her spinal cord following surgery to the same area back in September 2019.

The injury has left Natasha requiring round-the-clock-care, with a life-threatening condition called Automatic Dysrelexia – which can cause her blood pressure to rise dangerously high and lead to a stroke.

This condition has resulted in Natasha needing repositioned every two hours – meaning she is unable to sit in her current wheelchair for more than a maximum of two hours at a time.

The new wheelchair, which is due to arrive in January, will allow for Natasha to be repositioned when required, meaning she can enjoy trips outside her home with her family once again.

Speaking about her ‘Christmas miracle’, Natalie said: “We just couldn’t believe the generosity of this man.

“We met with him and he was so lovely. He is a very quiet and reserved man and wants to remain anonymous.

“He said to us ‘God’s been good to me and so it’s my turn to help others’.”

Natalie explained how the gentleman had come across their story in the news and had received an email she had sent to a number of local businesses pleading for help with her fundraising endeavour.

“I couldn’t believe it when he called. He was such a lovely man to talk to. He is a very down to earth man,” she continued.

“We are over the moon. The wheelchair is ordered and the delivery date we have so far is January 14 all being well.”

With excitement in the house to take Natasha on her first proper outing in over four years, her younger brother Rueben has already made plans to be the first to take his sister outside.

“Getting this wheelchair is life-changing for my family,” Natalie said, explaining that they would no longer have to solely rely on others if they wanted to leave the house.

“We are going to be able to plan things a bit better and we always have a ‘plan B’ now.

“We will now have the ability to go out as a family which is the main thing instead of a divide. There had been a divide.

“I felt guilty every time I went out the door because I couldn’t take Natasha with me. Or I felt guilty for Ruben because I couldn’t do the things we used to do together.”

Natalie continued: “This wheelchair is the best Christmas present ever. This is the gift of Natasha’s mobility and the gift of freedom.”

With hopes of bringing Natasha to Limavady on their first family holiday in years for her birthday, Natalie said: “I want to thank everyone that has made it possible for us, with all the donations that were made prior to this businessman coming forward.

“The support we have had has been outstanding and we thank everyone that did come forward to donate or help with the fundraising.”