LITTLE Owen Baldry is stepping into Christmas after getting the best present ever.

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Just 11 months after an appeal was launched to raise tens of thousands of pounds for a life-changing operation, brave Carlton Colville three-year-old Owen is amazingly taking some steps as he walks with his parents.

The Baldry family returned home last Thursday after two operations at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in America – with Owen being given the new gift of being able to take his first steps to walking independently for the first time.

At the start of the year, on Owen’s third birthday in January, The Journal reported on how his parents Carl and Sacha had launched Owen’s Wish2Walk campaign. Having been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (spastic diplegia) at 22 months-old, Owen has endured pain and discomfort on a daily basis.

But, in a remarkable road to recovery, Owen’s spasticity has improved dramatically – to the extent that he now has a better posture, is able to walk with his parents supporting him and walk with his sticks, and there has also been major progression with his speech, confidence and eating. This week, his proud parents praised the support of hundreds of people across Waveney after the community had rallied round to raise more than £68,000 for the appeal.

The money allowed the Baldrys to travel to the US for the operation and to receive vital equipment and physio to continue his recuperation at home.

Mrs Baldry told The Journal: “I can’t thank the whole community enough – I really can’t. We could not have done it without them. Owen is not in pain any more and this is the best Christmas gift.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support. It will be the best Christmas we have ever had,” she said.

Reflecting on their time in America, the SDR surgery, an operation to lengthen his heel cords and hamstrings and the intense physio thereafter, Mrs Baldry said: “Owen had no pain – not once did he cry. It was the best experience of our life and the support we had there was overwhelming. We got treated like royalty, it was just phenomenal – there are no words to describe it.

“Owen is already making progress. He can wiggle his toes and do things he has never done before,” she said.

“He walks with sticks and can walk holding my hand. He is now speaking better, is eating far better and his attitude and confidence is better – he wants to do things and it isn’t hurting him any more.

“Dr Park originally said Owen would be walking within two years – but now he has said he will walk independently in less than a year and will be playing sports and things ... it is amazing,” Mrs Baldry said.

Owen is currently wearing splints to give him support on his legs and in a few weeks’ time these will move to ankle splints which he is likely to wear for six months.

“These were fitted in the USA and they give Owen extra support,” Mrs Baldry said. In a few weeks time we will be going to ankle supports and then nothing at all. There has been a massive progression already.”

The youngster, who has become a local celebrity, will turn four next month – and his family and friends have been amazed with his progression.

Mrs Baldry said: “I did not prepare for this progress and for it to come so quickly. Two years is a long journey – but Owen is now walking holding my hand, it is a dream come true!

“Before we know it he will be kicking a football, which he loves, and everyone is amazed and surprised at the speed of things,” she said.

Even the scars look like little scratches now, his posture is amazing he does not cross his legs or turn his knees in any more.”

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