Mum’s shock at suspected theft of 10-year-old daughter’s specialist buggy

Sarah Bates' daughter, Maggie, has severe autism, profound learning disabilities, and is non-verbal

Sarah Bates' daughter, Maggie, has severe autism, profound learning disabilities, and is non-verbal Picture: SARAH BATES - Credit: Sarah Bates

A Suffolk mother has been left speechless by the suspected theft of her autistic daughter’s specialist wheelchair from the edge of a field.

Sarah Bates said she was still in shock after the buggy went missing from the top of a footpath near Stowmarket on Monday.

Her 10-year-old daughter, Maggie, who has severe autism, profound learning disabilities and is non-verbal, had been enjoying a walk in the countryside with her support worker, unaided by the chair, on the outskirts of their home village of Harleston.

Maggie’s chair was left briefly unattended as the pair went for a stroll over less even ground – before returning to find it missing from its position at the edge of a field near Shelland Church.

Despite a thorough search of the area, the chair could not be found and its disappearance was reported to the police.

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Officers are now appealing for any information about what happened to the chair.

Meanwhile, a group of friends and family, and staff from support provider Affinity Trust, have rallied round to raise money for a replacement.

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Mrs Bates, who was at work at the time the chair went missing, said: “I don’t even know what to say – I’m in shock.

“It’s of no use to anyone else.

“She relies so much on that chair that whoever did it might as well have just chopped her legs off.”

Mrs Bates said Maggie is only able to walk unaided depending on her frame of mind – but managed to make the 10 minute journey home with her support worker on foot.

“Thank god she was in the right frame of mind,” she added.

“She’s nearly 11 years old, so she couldn’t have just been picked up and carried home.”

A fundraising page attracted more than £700 in donations within a day of its launch on Facebook.

Police have asked anyone who knows what happened to the chair to get in touch.

The black Trotter special needs pushchair disappeared at about 2pm on Monday, June 29.

Anyone with information can call Suffolk Constabulary crime coordination centre on 101, quoting reference number 36416/20.

The fundraising page can be found here.

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