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Disabled Children's Caravan Stolen
PARENTS of two disabled children are pleading with callous thieves to return
their caravan or leave them without holidays for the foreseeable future.
The caravan had been specially adapted for brother and sister Ben and Megan
Fifteen-year-old Ben Herbert has cerebral palsy and a mental age of around
18 months, and is severely physically disabled and autistic.
Megan, who is 13, has Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism.
Their conditions mean neither child can cope with change - it causes them
unbearable stress resulting in upset and screaming in Ben's case and anger
in Megan's case.
Even if the Avondale Leda caravan was replaced tomorrow, it would take the
youngsters at least a year to become comfortable enough with it to go away
Mum Barbara, of Burley-in-Wharfedale, said: "The two children are devastated
and really think this is the end of holidays forever.
"As long as the caravan isn't in pieces, we would really like it back - no
She begged the culprits: "Just contact the YEP and as long as it's not 500
miles away we will just come and get it.
"It's not about the value of it - it's worth less than £1,000. It's about
the emotional value it has for our family and the time it took to get the
children to the point where they were happy to go away in it."
The 45-year-old said: "Ben was totally settled. Before we went on holiday,
we had to remind him of it and we would go and have tea in there to get him
used to it again."
The theft was even more heartbreaking for the family, as it scuppered their
planned trip to Wales next week.
They had already packed the van - stolen from their driveway as they slept
on Sunday night - with most of their camping gear, sleeping bags and sports
Over the last 10 years, the family have toured countries including Belgium,
Holland, Switzerland, Germany, France and Spain in the caravan.
Barbara said: "It didn't matter where we were, it was like being at home, in
a calm environment.
"Now we will have to start from scratch. Going on holiday was always hard
but we made it the best we could with our children's needs."
She and husband Gareth found air travel with Ben a nightmare and staying in
hotels is not an option.
The one time they tried it, the teenager screamed all night because he did
not know where he was.
Although Megan is highly intelligent and attends the mainstream Ilkley
Grammar School, she struggles with social skills and needs most topics
explaining carefully, often repeatedly.
She refuses to accept new items instead of old, familiar ones, so will find
it very hard to adapt to a replacement caravan and all the other missing
Barbara, who has a third child Cameron, nine, said: "The layout of the
caravan had to be the same each year for her to feel relaxed."
The six-berth van had various alterations.
One bunk had been removed and the toilet and shower area had been converted
into storage space.
It was around 14 years old, cream and with the registration P719 EGM.
Anyone with information should call Keighley police helpdesk on 01535
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