Photo gallery: Perfect early Christmas present as Grace, seven, gets running blades to help her play with her friends

Grace Matthews walks un-aided wearing her new blades for the first time.

Grace Matthews walks un-aided wearing her new blades for the first time. - Credit: Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press

It was a dream come true and the perfect early Christmas present - one which will ease a little girl's pain, boost her confidence and help her run for the first time in four years.

Grace Matthews' brother, Thomas, nine, helps Grace to walk wearing her new blades for the first tim

Grace Matthews' brother, Thomas, nine, helps Grace to walk wearing her new blades for the first time. - Credit: Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press

Grace Matthews, of Bacton Road, Mile Cross, lost both her legs to meningitis when she was just three, and has relied on prosthetic legs to get about since.

But the legs weren't flexible, meaning that the seven-year-old suffered pain in her hips and back and wasn't able to run.

She and her family longed for pricey running blades which would help her play with her friends and nine-year-old sibling Thomas.

And on Wednesday, December 17, the dream was realised as the youngster became one of the first children in the world to wear the high-tech mini blade XT prosthetic feet - sprayed in her favourite bright pink.


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Designed and donated by manufacturer Blatchford Clinical Services as part of a trial, Grace was able to enjoy her new found freedom with father Brian, mother Vicky and Thomas.

Mrs Matthews said: 'The difference has been amazing. As soon as she put them on you could see she was standing up straighter and she looked confident. When she's running about with her brother I can't believe the speeds she can do now.

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'The legs before didn't bend at the ankle, meaning her back was always a little bent and she sometimes said she was aching. We are hoping that these new blades are going to improve that and her quality of life.'

The blades, similar to those worn by Paralympic athletes, are not in mass production yet, but could cost up to £20,000.

The little girl was rushed to hospital on January 6, 2011 with a temperature, sickness and a pin-prick rash on her chest. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and doctors were forced to amputate both her legs below the knee, as well as her fingers, half the thumb on her left hand and half the palm on her right hand.

Mrs Matthews urged parents to be aware of the symptoms.

'It's so important to be aware of the risks of meningitis. We urge parents to trust their gut instinct if their child displays any of the signs and symptoms as several hours can literally make the difference between life and death.

'Grace inspires us every day with her strength and resilience and we want to give hope to other families who may be at the start of their meningitis journey,' she said.

To read Grace's full story and to donate, click here.

Do you have a story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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