The UK casino industry took centre stage recently as CHIPS presented the 500th powered wheelchair thanks to donations made by a wide range of organisations from across the industry including Aspers, Aspinalls, Caesars UK, Cammegh, Clarion Gaming, Genting, Grosvenor Casinos, Praesepe, Ritz, The Hippodrome and TCS John Huxley.
In a presentation at London’s Reform Club, Strictly Come Dancing star Anton du Beke took time out of a busy schedule to present the 500th powered wheelchair to 10-year old Abbi Bennett who lives with Ulrich’s Muscular Dystrophy which affects her lower limbs and severely limits her mobility. Abbi, who travelled to London from her home in Bournville, Birmingham is the latest recipient to benefit from CHIPS’ fundraising which totals over £2m, a figure that has allowed it to purchase the bespoke powered wheelchairs that the NHS cannot provide and that the parents cannot afford.
Talking at the presentation de Beke said: “These wheelchairs are life-changing and it’s been an honour to be part of this wonderful achievement with CHIPS! I really love working with smaller charities like CHIPS where you see the impact of their work, even though they’re small charities they make a massive difference. To be part of today has been incredible, I’ve met Abbi – who’s a little beauty – and that wheelchair has made such a difference to her life already. It’s wonderful to see how she’s completely independent not waiting for someone to push her or carry her, she’s just off on her own path! That sense of giving a fuller life to a child is so important and the freedom and independence it brings, is just unbelievable.”
CHIPS which is funded by donations from the UK casino and gaming industry, sets the highest fundraising standards with 100 percent of monies raised going towards the provision of powered wheelchairs for children throughout the United Kingdom. Linda explained: “Every chair we provide brings great joy not only to the individual child who is able to interact and socialise with friends but also to the family unit. The sad fact is that the demand for specialised chairs that the NHS can’t provide, far exceeds what CHIPS can supply. However, today marks a huge achievement for the charity and with more companies pledging their support to us each year, we hope to reach the next 500 even sooner and continue to bring freedom to youngsters throughout the UK.”
Commenting on the 500th presentation, CHIPS’ co-founder Linda Lindsay, said: “We’re delighted to have achieved this incredible milestone and in doing so provide Abbi with the gift of freedom which so many of us take for granted. This wheelchair, which cost £7,000, will provide her with the freedom to move around easily and safely and includes a state-of-the-art hi/lo facility allowing her to talk to her friends and family face-to-face rather than always on a lower level. We could not have reached this mile- stone figure without the amazing generosity of the UK gaming industry. We are very grateful and sincerely hope that this will continue, so that we can help more wonderful and deserving youngsters like Abbi.
“I’ve attended virtually every one of the 500 CHIPS wheelchair presentations and have seen how the chairs quite literally change lives, not just the children’s but the whole family as well as carers, teachers and friends. To reach 500 is incredibly exciting and we’re very hum- bled to have Anton mark this momentous occasion and help Abbi onto the next stage of her adventure.”
The history of the charity is deeply rooted in the British casino industry having started life back in 1993 as a fundraising idea at the John Huxley golf tournament that year, growing into a its own charity in 2001 and then becoming an official registered charity in the summer of 2017.
Lyndsay explained: “It’s amazing to see how much it’s grown, I don’t think any of us realised how far this would go. In the early days the wheelchairs were almost entirely funded via the casino industry but this has grown significantly as the broader gaming industry came on board and it’s incredible to see the donations making such a difference over the years. Now with our 500th wheelchair presentation, more and more organisations are partnering with CHIPS, with Clarion Gaming and the British Casino Awards being the most recent, and we look forward to welcoming many more companies from across the different gaming sectors in the coming months. Being part of CHIPS is a life changing experience and emotional in just about every sense. It’s heart- breaking to meet the young people and hear their stories but then uplifting to see what you’ve given them, it can make you angry about their situation but then after seeing a presentation it’s so invigorating to see how many lives you’ve touched, you just want to do more. I’m so proud and grateful to the casino and gambling industries, to our trustees and donors and to all our healthcare professionals for the difference everybody has made over the years and I look forward to hundreds more presentations in the future.”