A father-of-two from Newport whose son has a life-limiting condition has thanked his employer for giving an early Christmas gift to the hospice that cares for his family.
Ian Reiffer, operations assurance manager at Arriva Trains Wales, regularly attends the Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice in Sully with his son Lewis, 16, who was diagnosed with a severe form of epilepsy when he was just a few months old.
As part of an ongoing partnership, Ian’s employer Arriva Trains Wales sponsored Tŷ Hafan’s Carols at the Castle concert at Cardiff Castle on November 26.
Ian said: “Lewis has Lennox Gastaut Syndrome. He was developing well as a baby, then when he was 4 months old he started having small seizures. After lots of tests the consultant told us the spasms were very serious and Lewis had a severe form of epilepsy, which had caused damage to his brain.
“Now Lewis is 16 but mentally he’s probably one or two years old. He can’t communicate but he’s a lovely kid, very happy.
“We tend to have a long weekend break at Tŷ Hafan. It’s great – Lewis lights up every time he goes there. He loves the sensory play room and the pool. His sister Lauryn used to go to the siblings’ group every month but she’s got a very busy schedule these days!”
For the last couple of years Ian and his colleagues have organised a bike ride from Holyhead to Cardiff to raise money for Tŷ Hafan, raising £2,500 this year. So he was thrilled to learn that his bosses had agreed to sponsor this year’s carol concert.
“It’s fantastic. I’m really chuffed that we’ve got to this stage. It started with the bike rides and we’ve been building the relationship with Tŷ Hafan since then. It’s an important part of the community and community work is really important to us at Arriva.
“The support I get from my employer is unreal. It’s a lifeline really. I couldn’t wish for a better company. If the school phones me to say Lewis isn’t well, I can just go – no questions asked. They understand.”
Business and Community Fundraiser Eleanor Leyshon said: “We’re thrilled that Arriva Trains Wales has kindly chosen to sponsor Carols in the Castle. The event was a great way to kick-start the festive season and we are now looking forward to further developing our relationship with Arriva over the next year.”
Rob Philips, Finance Director for Arriva Trains Wales, said: “We are delighted to be able to support such a good local charity this Christmas, and with lots of Arriva Trains Wales staff attending the Christmas concert too – it’s a perfect way to get us all in the Christmas mood!”