A young Northumberland boy with severe cerebral palsy is getting “a new lease of life” with the help of a four-figure grant from Newcastle Building Society.
Seven year-old Nathan Main wasn’t breathing when he was born and had to be resuscitated, but despite his parents being told to prepare for him not surviving, Nathan fought hard to start breathing on his own and pulled through.
Due to the substantial amount of extra care that their son needs, his parents Steven and Tracy Walsh Main set up Nathan’s Needs, an ongoing fundraising appeal that raises funds for making essential adaptation to the family home and provide Nathan with specialist equipment and essential aids to help with communication and mobility.
Since Nathan’s Needs was set up, more than £15,000 has been raised by friends, family and other local people through a variety of events and challenges, including Nathan’s year-old big sister Chloe raising £200 by running the Great North Junior Run.
And now, after Tracy applied for a grant as a customer of Newcastle Building Society’s Ashington branch, a £1,135 donation is being made to Nathan’s Needs to enable the purchase of specialist software to further improve Nathan’s ability to communicate, as well as a wheelchair attachment that will allow him to use the system when he’s out and about.
Nathan recently took part in a successful trial of a specialist Tobii EyeGaze computer, which works by tracking the eye movements of its users, and having seen the impact that it had on his life, the family ordered a computer and two sets of software costing just over £4,000.
The grant will now allow Nathan’s family to buy the next level software package for the computer, which will further extend what he is able to achieve.  
The grant has been provided by the Newcastle Building Society Community Fund at the Community Foundation, which has been set up to provide an ongoing source of financial support for charities and community groups that are located in or around the communities served by the Society’s 28-strong branch network, and put forward for support by its customers.
Tracy Walsh Main says: “We’ve tried lots of different things to try to help Nathan communicate, but because he has poor hand control, they were unsuccessful.
He took to the EyeGaze computer really quickly and it’s making an incredible difference to his life – we’re starting to really see how much he understands about what’s going on around him, and obviously thefaster he can communicate what he’s thinking or feeling, the better it is for everyone.
“Nathan has very quickly mastered the initial software package that we bought with his computer and he’s very much ready to move onto the next level, while being able to have the computer with us at all times will make a massive difference.
“This system has given Nathan a whole new lease of life, and the generous support that we’ve had from Newcastle Building Society will mean he can learn to get even more in the future.”
The Newcastle Building Society Community Fund is run in association with the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.  Grant applications for a maximum of £3,000 can be made in any Society branch or via the newcastle.co.uk website by customers who wish to support their local communities.
Ivy Campbell, manager at the Society’s Ashington branch, adds: “Our Community Fund is helping us support communities across the North East, and the commitment of everyone involved to helping Nathan makes this campaign hugely worthy of our support.”
For more information on the fundraising work done by Nathan’s Needs, please visit www.nathansneeds.co.uk