It’s the moment his mum dreamed of and Spalding Guardian readers could only hope for.
Five-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer Joshua Holmes has taken his first steps after undergoing pioneering surgery to remove the stiffness in his legs and free him from pain.
Joshua, from Sutton Bridge, can only move backwards in his specialised walking frame, but for all those who know him it is a huge leap forward in his treatment – and a big part in his amazing ‘SDR Journey’ has been played by you, our readers.
A year ago the Spalding Guardian launched an appeal to raise £20,000 towards the cost of selective dorsal rhizotomy treatment (SDR) and since then readers have shown their continued support and generosity.
Mum Aimee said: “I’m amazed at how fast he can go in the walker.
“Before the operation, Joshua tried to use it but he wasn’t able to move because of the stiffness in his legs. “Being brain damaged, it’s a lot for him anyway, but now he has mastered going backwards.
“It’s given him his own form of mobility.”
Since the operation, Joshua has been able to come off two of his muscle-relaxing medicines, which has improved his awareness as well as helped him physically.
Aimee said: “We are also working hard with his physio at home and at school. Of course, we have to measure progress from where we started, but he is doing so well. It is so nice to see.”
At the moment, the specialised walking frame is kept at the Garth School in Spalding, where Joshua attends, but Aimee would love to have one for him at home.
She said: “The specialised walking frame is easy to use with a small amount of effort, so it’s ideal for Joshua, but they cost around £2,000 so at the minute we only have one at school.
“It was such a surprise seeing how well he is doing in it when I went to school for your photograph – not having one at home I miss this.
Joshua is also now able to use his special needs trike with more ease since his operation and again it gives full support.
Aimee said: “Someone has to push him, but it is also great physio for his legs. Sadly, the trike he has now he is outgrowing and, as you can imagine, these also cost several hundred pounds
“We are so grateful to everyone who continues to support us. Recently, we purchased some equipment for physio at home, including physio mats, with donations made to our Just Giving page. There will always be things we need.”
One company which has given continued support to Joshua is Bakkavor Meals in Sutton Bridge. Recently staff presented a cheque for £200 to help pay for his physiotherapy.
Emma L’Angellier, Senior HR Officer, said: “The SEF (Site Employee Forum) who represent the employees at Bakkavor Meals-Sutton Bridge saw the fundraising initiative in the Spalding Guardian for Joshua Holmes and his need for physiotherapy following major surgery to try and help him to walk.
“The employees were so overwhelmed with Joshua’s story they wanted to help.
“We met both Aimee and Joshua on Thursday and were bowled over with Joshua’s lovely personality, giggles and smiles.”
l To support the fund, visit www.justgiving.com/josh ua-holmes. Follow Joshua at Joshua’s SDR Journey on Facebook.