Thomas gets his new wheelchair

BEAMING Thomas Crossling sits in his new wheelchair thanks to the staggering support of kind-hearted family, friends and businesses.

Live music events, bucket collections, haircuts, raffles and a conga down the seafront all helped in a fundraising drive to get the 18-year-old his new chair.

The wheelchair cost 8,600 but the total money raised reached an incredible 14,562, including 9,600 from retail giant Tesco.

Thomas suffers from muscle-wasting disease muscular dystrophy and had grown too big for his old chair.

He said: "I am so grateful, I would like to thank everyone who was involved."

Thomas's aunt, Tracy Connolly has paid tribute to the "wonderful generosity" of the people and businesses in Hartlepool.

The 45-year old, who lives in Hamilton Road, said: "I can't thank people enough.

"People have just been so generous.

"There are so many individuals and businesses that have gone out of their way to raise money and donate and it has made such a big difference.

"I've been taken aback by the response, and to raise the money as quickly as we have done is brilliant."

After more than 4,000 had been raised for the cause, Tracy wrote to charitable businesses in the town, and received a fantastic response.

The Tesco donation more than covered the cost of the wheelchair, and also meant the chair could be insured.

Tracy added: "I couldn't believe it when I received the call to say Tesco had donated that money.

"I told Thomas and he was smiling from ear to ear, we were all so thrilled.

"We still have some money left and I told Thomas if there's anything you think you need, tell us and we can get it."

A number of charities, individuals and businesses all played their part in helping.

The Hartlepool Round Table donated some of the money they raised at the annual beer festival.

Mark Rycraft, chairman of the Round Table, said: "It was a pleasure to help out in any way we could and it's brilliant to see Thomas in the new chair.

"Thomas is a local lad which makes it even more special and personal."

Kayleigh Connolly, 18, who is Thomas's cousin, organised a number of open mic nights and bucket collections to help raise money for the cause.

She said: "I was quite surprised at how many people responded.

"They have just been so kind and generous to donate and help to raise money."