Family thanks fundraisers as son is all set for a life-changing operation

Friends, work colleagues and supporters of the Oliver's Footsteps appeal with the Whittington family

Friends, work colleagues and supporters of the Oliver's Footsteps appeal with the Whittington family (front) at the Spring Tide pub and restaurant in Lowestoft, ahead of the tandem parachute jump at Beccles Airfield, Ellough on March 19. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Dreams are closer to becoming reality for a brave five-year-old boy and his family.

CHEERS: Toasting success are, from left to right, Tom, Clare and Oliver Whittington with general man

CHEERS: Toasting success are, from left to right, Tom, Clare and Oliver Whittington with general manager of the Spring Tide pub and restaurant Keith Fletcher. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

Tom and Clare Whittington and their son Oliver, of Oulton Broad in Lowestoft, will soon be off to London – thanks to an amazing community response to their appeal to raise £31,000 for a life-changing operation next month.

After being born 12 weeks premature, and suffering with a bleed on the side of his brain, Oliver spent two months in a neo-natal intensive care unit. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which means that he can't stand or walk unaided and needs help to do things that other children take for granted.

Despite these challenges, this 'very determined' youngster remains a very happy boy.

Last year Oliver was chosen for the SDR (selective dorsal rhizotomoy) surgery – to help improve his walking and posture – at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, but the family needed to raise £24,000 for the operation, as it is not available on the NHS.

Oliver Whittington. Picture: MICK HOWES

Oliver Whittington. Picture: MICK HOWES - Credit: Archant

They also needed a further £7,000 for intensive physio and equipment thereafter.

So, last December the Whittington family started Oliver's Footsteps campaign – with the aim to 'get Oliver walking'.

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And now the brave five-year-old is closer to fulfilling the goal of walking unaided for the first time, after the community rallied round to help them raise almost £23,000.

With £22,900 having been collected in less than three months, further fundraising events are planned. On Saturday a group of family friends, relatives, work colleagues and supporters came together at the Spring Tide pub and restaurant in Lowestoft – which has chosen the appeal as their main fund-raising partner for this year.

Motivated by the same goal, more than 30 of them will raise funds and embark on a tandem skydive on March 19 at the UK Parachuting base at Beccles Airfield.

Mrs Whittington said: 'We never, ever thought we would get this far and that it would be possible. Thank you everyone from the bottom of our hearts.'

Mr Whittington, who is taking part in the parachute jump, added: 'It has just been incredible.'

Visit www.gofundme.com/oliversfootsteps1 to pledge support.

? Have you got a Lowestoft story? Email mark.boggis@archant.co.uk

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