Published: 09 Aug 2010

Jennings Motor Group has stepped in to help a local family in their bid to raise funds to provide essential therapy and care for their disabled son.

Paul and Julie Connaughton, from Maltby, near Ingleby Barwick, are currently raising funds to provide essential 1 to 1 therapy and day care for their ten-year-old son, James, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.

But the devoted couple, who to date have raised in excess of £2500 through various fundraising activities, have set an ultimate goal to help other children and their families who are facing the same difficult circumstances and living in the Teesside area.

In May of this year, James attended the Percy Hedley School based at Forest Hall in Newcastle for a week’s assessment. The school, which is based around Conductive Education, has specialist teachers and therapists who provide an integrated approach to working with children who have speech, language and communication difficulties and complex difficulties including dyspraxia, dyslexia and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Following the assessment, Paul and Julie received a 17-page report detailing James’ needs.

James, whose ability to learn is severely impaired, currently attends a Special School in Billingham, but unfortunately he receives very little 1-1 therapy from dedicated specialists and therapists. The majority of work is carried out by teachers and teaching assistants who are instructed by the therapists.

In April of this year, Paul and Julie decided to apply for funding from the Local Education Authority within Stockton Borough Council, in order to send James to the Percy Hedley School in Newcastle. The application is still being processed.

Paul said; “The cost to transport James and fees for Percy Hedley School is approximately £45,000 to £50,000 per annum, with nearly half of the cost being allocated to transport alone, as James would have to travel in a taxi with an escort.

“It was this, in addition to the huge disruption to James’ daily routine if he did attend Percy Hedley School on a full-time basis, which prompted Julie and I to look into the possibility of providing a miniature version of the Percy Hedley School here in the Borough of Stockton.”

“Obviously, we are a long way off our ultimate goal, but we have a number of meetings with various key members from relevant departments of Stockton Borough Council in place, which can only be a positive start.

“We can only hope and pray that in the future, we will be granted this unique opportunity to give James and other children like him, a better chance of independence in their lives.”

The most recent event which boosted fundraising in excess of £2,500, was the Glasgow Half Marathon. Paul, his wife, other family members and friends completed the 13-mile run in 2 hours 50 minutes.

Nas Khan, managing director of JenningsMotor Group, was more than willing to donate cash towards the appeal, he said; “We were delighted to help Paul and his family, who did extremely well to complete the run in less than three hours.

"On behalf of the group I would like to wish Paul and his family, every success with their fundraising efforts in the future."

If you would like to make a donation towards helping James, please contact Paul Connaughton at

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