Spalding store backs town charity’s project to help autistic girl

M&S Simply Food manager Andy Lightfoot gives �250 to Make Them Smile volunteer Crystal Eggleston.
M&S Simply Food manager Andy Lightfoot gives �250 to Make Them Smile volunteer Crystal Eggleston.
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Charity volunteers were thrilled when a town store backed their bid to help a little girl with autism spectrum disorder.

National charity Make Them Smile, which has an office in Spalding, has now bought a specialist “travel system” to help a little girl called Maddie (6).

Mum-of-two Crystal Eggleston (22) said Maddie, who lives locally, cannot bare to be touched and the travel system protects her and keeps her from becoming agitated.

The equipment cost £316 and the bulk of the money came from a bag pack at Marks and Spencer Simply Food when £250 was raised.

Store manager Andy Lightfoot explained: “Crystal approached me and we liked the sound of the back story, it was local – it was specific to an individual child and an individual family – and we decided we would like to raise some money.”

The bag pack took place in the run-up to Christmas with Crystal dressed as Santa, her partner Martin Stirk, a trustee of Make Them Smile, dressed as an elf and Martin’s brother, Bradleigh, also dressed as Santa.

Martin (27) founded Make Them Smile with fellow charity workers in 2011, when he was living in Bradford, and opened an office in Spalding three or four months ago to add to offices based in Great Yarmouth and London.

He now lives in Spalding and, together with Crystal, Martin runs a company hiring out bouncy castles and inflatables.

The charity’s aims include relieving childhood poverty and sickness and preserving the health of children with wide-ranging disabilities and/or special care needs – and it goes a step further by helping those caring for such children.

It also helps with things like day trips, medical equipment and hospital travel.

Make Them Smile helps children all over the country.

Funds are raised on a case by case basis, tailored to a specific child, and people seeking the charity’s help can remain completely anonymous – without their details being published – if they so wish.

Among children currently being helped is an 11-year-old boy who has cerebral palsy and needs physiotherapy that the NHS won’t fund.

• Make Them Smile has its head office in Welland Workspace, Pinchbeck Road, Spalding.

You can find out more about the charity’s work by visiting or by calling 01775 248485.

There are details for applying for support and grant applications.

There’s also information on how you can offer sponsorship and a donate page.

The charity’s work also includes trying to make possible children’s last wishes.