A mum who set up a playgroup in Leicester to help children with learning disabilities better integrate with other kids was moved to tears when colleagues from our Thurmaston store presented her with a surprise £2,000 grant from the Asda Foundation.
Amy Dye set up Happy Smiles with her partner Adam Coombe's grandmother Sandra in April 2015 after finding there were no groups in the area for her son Ryley, who has learning disabilities, epilepsy and asthma, to mix with other pre-school children. The aim of the group is to provide activities for pre-school children and a support network for their families.
Amy said: "I roared my eyes out when I saw the cheque – I couldn't stop crying. We're going to buy a whole variety of new toys for the children. A lot of our toys have been damaged because the shed we store them in keeps leaking.
"Ryley has autism, learning difficulties, dyspraxia, epilepsy and asthma, and I found there was lot of ignorance around disability. If I was out with Ryley I'd get ignorant comments and it was horrible.
"I had nowhere to go so I decided to set up this group, which is a playgroup for all children and their siblings and families to mix together, whether the children have special needs or not."
"When it started Ryley (pictured below on the left with Santa) struggled to talk. Being around lots of other children has really helped him and he's now in mainstream school and doing really well."
Melissa Young, who's the community champion at our Thurmaston store, was helping out at Happy Smiles' Christmas party, when she presented Amy and Sandra with the cheque. She was joined by general store manager Richard Tassi, Chris Beaumont, our senior director for East Midlands, and Anthony Hemmerdinger, vice president of retail for the South.
Melissa said: “We had so much fun at the party. It was fantastic to see so many families from the local community, and it was great to see Amy and Sandra's faces when we surprised them with the cheque.
"It’s a privilege to be able to bring some Christmas joy to the people in our community who deserve it most at this special time of the year."