Appeal to help young Billy walk raises £60,000 in a year

Irene and Marc Childs have issued a heartfelt thank you to fundraisers who have helped them meet a £

Irene and Marc Childs have issued a heartfelt thank you to fundraisers who have helped them meet a £60,000 fundraising target.Their son Billy has cerebral palsy and the money raised with help him with an operation early next year.Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

A grateful family have been handed the perfect Christmas miracle - the prospect that their four-year-old son will walk.

Marc and Irene Childs of Caister have issued a huge, heart-felt thank you to generous supporters who have helped them hit a £60,000 fundraising target in just a year.

It means their son Billy can have a life-changing operation in February that will see him take his first steps and live as full a life as possible.

From the moment the public became aware of little Billy Child's plight, they started to raise money even before the family launched an appeal or were even aware of their money-spinning efforts.

Mr and Mrs Childs say they have been totally overwhelmed and humbled by the support from friends and family as well as many people they have never met.

In an emotional open letter to the community they say: 'This has been a truly humbling experience for us and we have been extremely touched. We really are very fortunate and proud to be part of such a wonderful and caring community.

'We are determined that Billy will achieve as much as he possibly can and fulfil his potential, and would like to hope that all of you who have supported us will share in and feel as much joy and happiness in his future successes as we do. You will have played a big part in making it happen!

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'There is no guarantee that Billy will ever walk independently, but let's hope that through making the best use of his fund and with lots of hard work and perseverance (and a few more tears) together we can achieve a small miracle.'

Billy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one, throwing the family into turmoil.

Having resolved to do all they could to help him they embarked on expensive physiotherapy to reduce the stiffness in his legs and were prepared to sell all their assets including their home.

Friends and family were adamant that that would not happen for the sake of the other children Lois aged eight, six-year-old Adam and Billy's twin sister Rose-Elia.

Soon donations were being made and proceeds from events they didn't even know had happened were rolling in and the appeal, Billy's Steps, came into being.

'We kept thinking 'but why?',' Mrs Childs said. 'But everyone said it was for Billy and that is what we have had to overcome. It is not about us, it is for Billy's future. Once he is old enough and maybe needs a new frame he will be able to dip into his fund.'

Raffles, cake sales, bingo nights, dinner dances and sponsored walks have all helped to swell the fund as money continues to be donated, hitting its target after just a year.

It means Billy can have a £25,000 operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, one of four centres carrying out the trial procedure which involves cutting through the spinal chord.

Surgeons there have already carried out around fifty of the lengthy procedures using all the latest expertise to identify and cut nerves that are sending the wrong signals to muscles, and leaving the ones that are firing properly.

Afterwards his limbs are likely to be floppy and physiotherapy at a clinic in Colchester will be on-going.

Although Billy did qualify for the five-hour operation under the NHS there was no money left by the time the approval came through.

The 'last resort' operation means Billy will walk, although how much support he will require from a stick or frame remains to be seen and he may never gain complete independence.

However his parents are determined to give all the best chances they can and are hopeful of a positive outcome thanks to the amazing support of well-wishers.

Billy's fund is managed by the Tree of Hope charity as trust fund which means payments can be gift aided and that every transaction has to be signed off.

To support Billy's Steps visit