TV presenter Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen has been appointed vice patron for an organisation that rescued the charity his late father founded 40 years ago.
The flamboyant home-style consultant was given the honour by the Leatherhead-based charity Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) - which merged with Epsom charity MERU in April when it ran into financial difficulties.
MERU, which provides custom-made equipment for disabled children was founded in 1973 by Trefor Llewellyn-Bowen, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and William Bond, a senior lecturer in engineering design.
They were concerned about the lack of clinical facilities providing equipment for disabled children and raised the money to build a department of medical engineering at Queen Mary’s Hospital in Carshalton, Sutton.
Further funding allowed the charity to expand over the years and in 2009 it moved from Orchard Hill, Carshalton to West Hill, Epsom.
But a spokesman for national charity QEF said this year's merger was necessary as MERU had been "struggling" financially.
The charity, which aims to provide disabled children with equipment free of charge, mostly relies on donations, with some local government funding - both of which had dropped.
He said: "A lot of the funding for MERU was running out so it merged with QEF, which gave MERU an opportunity to consolidate its work and stand on its own feet again.
"We don’t want to see MERU disappear."
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s appointment cements the relationship between QEF and MERU, where the celebrity is already a patron.
He said: "I am very happy to accept the role of QEF vice patron.
"QEF has a long history of supporting disabled people to increase their independence and improve their opportunities and I am impressed with the work they do.
"But most of all I am pleased that QEF has ensured that MERU can continue to provide custom-built equipment for disabled children."
Bowen has helped to promote MERU’s new TravelChair, which was launched during the Paralympics and enables children with complex disabilities to travel safely and securely by air. The QEF spokesman said 25 TravelChairs had already been ordered by airline Virgin Atlantic.
For more information about MERU visit www.meru.org.uk
Article from Hardeep Matharu at epsomguardian
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