Larkin family

The Larkin family

Chief Petty Officer Ian Larkin has two sons with cerebal palsy, SSAFA was there when they needed a helping hand

The Larkin family

Edward and William both have cerebal palsy. SSAFA provided them with a specialist wheelchair and bed.

The Larkin family

William just wanted to have a bedroom that looked like any ordinary teenager’s.

Raising twin 15 year old boys would be a challenge for most of us but Chief Petty Officer Ian Larkin and his wife Gill have really got their work cut out with their boys Edward and William, both of whom have Cerebral Palsy. So SSAFA volunteers in their area have stepped in to give them a helping hand.

William is the more severely affected of the two. He has Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy which affects all muscle groups in the body. As an electric wheelchair user, he requires a high level of support and attends a special school in Plymouth to help with his needs. William had been using a hospital bed but it felt too much like a piece of medical equipment for use in the home. SSAFA helped the family buy a special profiling bed which is fully functioning for all of his needs - and importantly feels much more appropriate for a home setting.

The twins' dad Ian, who has been in the Royal Navy for 33 years, says: “William just wanted to have a bedroom that looked like any ordinary teenager’s. The bed has really helped with that and it does everything that we need it to do.”

Edward, William's brother, has Diplegic Cerebral Palsy. This means that he has no muscle tone in his legs but has full strength in his upper body. Edward uses a manual wheelchair and attends school locally. He is a member of West Country Hawks wheelchair rugby club where he has shown great promise in the sport. When SSAFA heard about his talent, they helped to raise money to provide Edward with a specialist Sports Wheelchair.

The Larkin family

We never could have afforded to buy the bed and specialist wheelchair on our own and they have made such a difference to the boys

Proud dad Ian says: “The GB Rugby Squad has earmarked Edward for youth development meaning that he could progress to Paralympic level sport with the right training.”

He continues: “It’s like an armour plated wheelchair! It has to be made to measure to fit the person and is a vital tool for the sport. If he didn’t have it he couldn’t play so it will really make a difference to his future prospects for the sport.”

When the family first came into contact with SSAFA they were living in a house that needed some adaptations for the boys. SSAFA helped to put in a driveway for the house to be wheelchair accessible.

On his contact with SSAFA Ian says: “We’ve had such a good experience. Our case worker in Devon, Jim Merrett, was really helpful, he understood our needs and made it a pleasant experience to help us a family.”

“We are very grateful. We never could have afforded to buy the bed and specialist wheelchair on our own and they have made such a difference to the boys. William is really happy with his bed and Edward is making great progress with his rugby.”