Beth’s on her bike to help Dereham youngster Blake

A loving big sister will lead a sponsored bike ride organised to help her three-year-old brother to take his first steps.

Nine-year-old Beth Barley, from Dereham, will cycle 15 miles from Norwich to Reepham to raise money for brother Blake's life-changing operation in America.

Their parents Luke and Debbie launched the Blake's Wish to Walk appeal earlier this month and hope to raise �50,000 so the youngster, who has cerebral palsy, can undergo a pioneering procedure called SDR early next year.

Beth, who attends Toftwood Junior School, is keen to do her bit and will lead a team of 10 cyclists along Marriotts Way from Norwich to Reepham on Saturday, August 6.

'It's going to be hard work, but I really like biking and I'm looking forward to it,' she said. 'Blake's a good brother. He struggles to play with some toys and finds it hard to pedal on go-karts.'

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The appeal has met with a phenomenal response so far, with the community, school and businesses rallying around to help.

Nearly �10,000 has been raised so far – not including the flights to America kindly donated in the first week – and a host of fundraisers are in the pipeline.

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Blake was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy at 23 months and relies on a walking frame to move around, balance and play.

Permanent stiffness (spasticity) in his leg muscles means that he can only walk on tiptoes and must wear uncomfortable leg splints 23 hours a day to force his heels down to the floor.

The bright and cheery youngster also suffers chronic pain in his legs, back and hips, and doctors have warned he will need a wheelchair by the time he starts nursery in September.

Demand for the operation means it is not readily available on the NHS and its limited availability in the UK has ruled out the option of paying for private treatment.

Mrs Barley, 33, was touched when seven-year-old Elliott Bowe, a friend's son, recently donated �5 he had saved after a visit from the tooth fairy.

'How kind and thoughtful,' she said. 'It was amazing.'

The cyclists, including Beth and her father, will meet at the Barker Street industrial estate in Norwich at 9am next Saturday and expect to finish at Reepham Barns at lunchtime, where Blake and Mrs Barley will be waiting.

To find out more or to make a donation, click on or call Mrs Barley on 01362 693452.

Cheques, made payable to Blake Barley Appeal, can also be posted to 67 Stone Road, Toftwood, Dereham, NR19 1LH.

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