Dad to climb mountain to raise money for Lexden Springs Special School

Gazette: Neil Arnold, who is undertaking a challenge for the 100,000 Smiles appeal Neil Arnold, who is undertaking a challenge for the 100,000 Smiles appeal

A GUTSY father is to climb a mountain to raise money for disabled children.

Neil Arnold is to climb 20,000 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak.

He is taking on the challenge to raise money for the 100,000 Smiles appeal to pay for a playground at Lexden Spring special school in Colchester.

Neil's son, Kieran, 12, goes to the school and Neil said: "Those children have a mountain to climb every day so I thought it would be a good challenge to do."

Kieran has dyspraxia and has little speech. He uses the sign language makaton to communicate.

The Smiles appeal aims to raise £100,000 for the new playground at the school which would include swings, a roundabout, slides and sensory equipment which can be used by disabled children.

The school in Halstead Road, Colchester, cares for children with a range of disabilities including autism and development delays and some of them are wheelchair dependant.

Play is vital to the children's physical and social development but it can be difficult for them to use public play areas because of their disabilities.

He said: "Sensory equipment is more than just play equipment to these children.

"It triggers all kinds of things for them and is important for their development."

The hike up 20,000 feet will also be a personal challenge for Neil.

Neil, a commercial vehicle mechanic for SM Commercials in Frating Road, Great Bromley, has had to undergo two operations on his spine.

He is aiming to fly out to Tanzania to take on the climb in September.

The 100,000 Smiles appeal, which is supported by the Gazette, has so far collected nearly £80,000 towards the total to build a playground at the school.

Neil, 41, from Langham, hopes to raise £3,000 towards the appeal fund.

Donations are welcome and anyone wanting to contribute is asked to send a cheque to the Lexden Springs Appeal Fund at Lexden Springs School, Halstead Road, Colchester, CO3 9AB or email appealfund@lexdensprings.essex.sch.uk.

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