Hereford & Worcester

Charity to pay Ross-on-Wye girl's fare to Hereford school

Leia Daunter Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Leia Daunter is "chuffed to bits" she can continue to attend school

A charity says it will cover the travel costs of a 16-year-old disabled girl to allow her to continue attending school.

Leia Daunter from Ross-on-Wye was due to transfer to a sixth form college in September until council travel funding threw it into question.

Her family estimated local authority charges for Leia's bus travel would cost a prohibitive £870 per annum.

But the Lydia Cole Foundation has offered to cover the bill for the first year of studies.

Leia's great-aunt and guardian Paulette Evans-Baldwin says the teenager is "chuffed to bits" over the development.

Leia uses a wheelchair and has microcephaly, epilepsy and spastic diplegia. Before the end of term, she was picked up every morning and evening by minibus for the 15-mile trip to and from Barrs Court special school in Hereford.

The plan from September was for Leia to attend Barrs Court sixth form college, also in Hereford, with Ms Evans-Baldwin saying the specialist college was "the only school in the county for [Leia's] ability".

But the cost issue soon emerged.

Herefordshire Council had previously said it introduced a travel charge for children with special education needs aged 16 and over five years ago.

Image copyright Google
Image caption Barrs Court sixth form college is the closest school with specialist provision for Leia, says her guardian

Of The Lydia Cole Foundation's intervention, Ms Evans-Baldwin said it was "absolutely fantastic".

She said: "All her friends are [at the sixth form college] and Leia likes routine."

The charity is named after Lydia Cole, a woman with epilepsy who died aged 18.

Her family and friends set it up to help disadvantaged children in the local area.

Ms Cole's sister Rachel Llewellyn said she was "sure [Lydia] would be very proud to see we are helping".

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