A chance meeting in a Belper pub has led to the gift of a £10,000 lifeline for a five-year-old boy who is terminally ill.
Dylan Jones suffers from a rare muscle-wasting disease, for which there is no treatment or cure. His condition will get gradually worsen as he grows older, and the average life expectancy of those affected is 26. From the day Dylan was diagnosed in February 2015, mum Ashley Lawmon, 25, threw herself into fundraising to help her son, even giving up her job.
One big boost resulted in the backing of boxing and fitness gyms in Derby. But the major breakthrough arrived one night earlier this year when she was with her boyfriend, Michael Fletcher, in The Tavern pub on Derby Road, where he works.
Ashley bumped into Ben McGonigal, whose brother, Tom, had died suddenly in 2006 after suffering an aneurysm at his home on Royston Drive. In the wake of his death, their mum, Sue, set up the Tom McGonigal Fund, with the aim of helping disadvantaged and under-privileged children. And now, Ashley and Dylan have taken delivery of an electric wheelchair, paid for with a £10,000 donation from the fund.
“All I can say is thankyou for helping us,” said Ashley, who lives in Somercotes. “It will be a massive help to Dylan.
“The wheelchair will give him so much more independence, and means we will be able to go out on family days. He loves it so much that he wants his own personalised number plate!”
Ashley is sure the electric chair, as opposed to a hand-pushed one, will enable Dylan to enjoy his time at Swanwick Primary School much more. He can play with his friends, rather than having to be constantly supervised by a teacher.
The gift is also a burden off the shoulders of Ashley, who confesses that life has been tough since she received the dreaded confirmation that Dylan was born with Duchenne because of a genetic fault.
“There are a lot of dark days when he gets angry,” she said. “But most of the time, he is just so happy and takes everything in his stride.
“We keep each other going. When he is upset, I give him a cuddle, and when I am upset, he gives me a cuddle.”