A determined Barnstaple mum is hoping to raise £13,000 for specialist eye gaze technology for her severely disabled sons.
Twins Peirce and Jed Fenn, from Pilton, were born prematurely at 30 weeks on Christmas Day, 1999.
Mum Anne-Maire Wiles is hoping to raise money for the twins to have their own eye gaze technology – Stephen Hawking-type equipment that will open up channels of communication that Peirce and Jed have never experienced before.
Since the start of March, she has, with the help of her family and friends, raised £3,000 of the £13,000 needed through coffee mornings and generous donations from the Windsor Arms pub and the Freemasons.
Anne-Marie said: “The twins use Eyegaze technology at their school and it’s so important for them to be able to continue to have access to it when they leave Pathfield in July.
“Already we have seen Peirce communicate and interact in ways we simply had not thought was possible.
“Specially-programmed eye tracking software has allowed him to make real choices about what he wants to eat, whether he wants to be indoors or outside and what activities he wants to do.
“We hadn’t seen him do this before. It was like he was showing off – he literally took control with his eyes and was making proper choices on what he wanted to do.
“Having Eyegaze software developed specially for him will allow Peirce to discover what he can actually do, rather than what we think he can or can’t do, making him so much more independent.”
The software will be even more poignant when the twins move into the brand new £150,000 Gibson Lodge, run by Bideford charity Northam Lodge.
Peirce and Jed will be the first residents at the new facility and will see the twins – who both have profound and multiple disabilities, including epilepsy, cerebral palsy, visual impairment and having to be fed through tubes – live side-by-side in purpose-built rooms.
Anne-Marie added: “I cried for three weeks at the thought of them leaving home.
“But I realised it’s an amazing opportunity for them. So, I bit the bullet and knew I had to take this incredible offer. It is their rite of passage to a more independent life.”
Find out more about the family’s fundraising at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anne-marie-wiles