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Autistic Boy's Sensory Room Rises from the Ashes

Article date: Mon, 06 Jan 2014 16:03 GMT

Lawrence Jones stepped in

An autistic boy has been given a new lease of life thanks to a generous businessman who rebuilt a sensory room for the seven-year-old after arsonists torched his original facility on Christmas Day.

Fiona and Wesley Ratcliff, from Wythenshawe, had built a sensory shed for their son Harvey, who has Phelan-McDermid Syndrome, but discovered their Christmas gift had been burgled and set alight on Christmas morning.

After a huge public outcry and outpouring of support, entrepreneur Lawrence Jones stepped in on Boxing Day, rallying his team of builders - usually based at UKFast's Campus on the edge of Manchester - to set to work.

After eight days of 24/7 hard work over the festive period and help from his team of builders and businesses from the local community, Jones the CEO of hosting and colocation firm UKFast, unveiled a state-of-the-art sensory room and garden makeover this weekend.

The sensory room now boasts a range of toys, colourful decor, flashing and moving lights, and a tropical fish tank - all of which can help Harvey's condition.

Jones said: "I saw the news on Twitter on Boxing Day and just thought it was terrible. As soon as I heard about Harvey and the hard work his parents had put in that had been completely ruined, I instantly wanted to help. We have huge resources at UKFast and our company is often described as the fourth emergency service, so I wanted to come to this family's rescue.

"We've not only completely redesigned and rebuilt the sensory room; we've also done a full garden makeover. The sensory room was originally a garden shed and it's now in the most incredible building, four times the size it was. It's easily the most amazing garden in Wythenshawe, but I mainly wanted to focus on safety and to develop Harvey's movement and communication skills.

"I called out for help from different suppliers and donators I've known in the past and you would not believe the response I have had. Britain is an incredible place when someone is in a difficult patch, and everyone has helped out enormously.

"It was a very emotional moment for the family, for me and for my team of builders when the sensory room and garden were revealed. Over the last eight days we've been here from daybreak until extremely late at night - even my three young daughters have been down to help - and I couldn't be more proud of what we've achieved. I hope Harvey, Wesley and Fiona share only happy times from now on."

Fiona Ratcliff, Harvey's mum, added: "It's unbelievable and we are just completely overcome and overwhelmed with how lucky we've been that someone has come forward and given us something as special as this.

"I can't thank Lawrence enough and I can't ever explain how grateful we are. To everyone who came forward and offered us whatever help they could we'd also like to say thank you and say you really restored our faith in people."

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