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Aged just two, he is a beautiful child with a radiant smile. He loves cuddles with his mum, the buzz and noise of visitors, plenty of attention and rough and tumble with his dad.
What is not immediately obvious is that Archie has profound and serious health issues requiring extra special care.
Archie has a severe form of cerebral palsy and epilepsy. His needs are the reason fundraisers in Thanet are working hard to provide cash for a specially-adapted sensory garden for him.
Dad David, 46, and mum Debbie, 27, of Bay View Road, Broadstairs, first became aware there was something out of the ordinary 32 weeks into Debbie’s pregnancy.
They had gone for a special scan to create a 4D image of their baby when a sonographer picked up on something unusual.
She urged the couple to seek medical attention. From Margate’s QEQM hospital, they were sent to St Thomas’s Hospital in London for rounds of MRI and ultra sound scans, blood tests and consultations with a neurologist.
They were devastated to learn that Archie had hada serious haemorrhage, affecting three quarters of his brain. His chances of surviving birth were “very slim”.
He was born by emergency Caesarean on February 12, 2012, a time Debbie desribes as “incredibly scarey and worrying.”
She said: “We were told that Archie would have very little quality of life and probably wouldn’t be able to hear, see or breathe on his own.
“As soon as Archie was born he was taken away to be checked over and to my surprise I could hear Archie crying and I remember the nurse saying ‘mum, it’s ok he’s breathing.’ They passed Archie over to his dad and we just couldn’t believe how lucky we were and how wrong the doctors must have been. He was breathing and crying and I was holding him, he looked just how a brand new baby should.”
“After a few hours, Archie started to have seizures and was put into intensive care. Then reality kicked back in.”
Time passed. Archie did not hit the normal milestones. He was diagnosed with four limb cerebral palsy and epilepsy, meaning he is unable to sit, crawl, walk or stand. He cannot swallow and is fed via a gastronomy tube inserted directly into his stomach. Archie may never be able to sit unaided
Although currently unable to speak, he is able to communicate with facial expressions and his own noises.
He has physiotherapy and attends Green Banks centre for children with disabilities in Garlinge.
Debbie describes him as “the most beautiful and happy child you could ever meet.”
Debbie, a former manager at Tesco Extra, and self employed plumber Dave are determined Archie should have as “normal” and happy a life as possible, enabling him to have as many experiences as possible, despite the restrictions of his conditon.
Creating a sensory garden with a specialist swing and other sensory equipment, allowing Archie to play outside and develop his motor skills is on target for this summer.
Family and friends are going all out to achieve the £10,000 goal.
Debbie said the idea was to help Archie cope in different environments. She said: “At present Archie has spent a lot of time at home due to him not being able to travel very well and also he has spent a lot of time in hospital with chest infections and seizures. Archie also can become very distressed in environments that he is not used to.”
His parents are well supported by family and friends and Archie has been accepted for respite care by Demelza House, a situation which provide much needed relief from the strain of caring for a profoundly disabled little boy. The huge benefit for Debbie and Dave will be knowing that he will be in the care of trained nurses.
Debbie said: “We have come to terms with the situation, it doesn’t matter to us what Archie can or can’t do, what we get from him comes from who he is. What matters is that he is healthy and well. The support we have had really restores one’s faith in human nature. You can think life is very unfair, but we have realised how lucky we are and how wonderful people can be.”
Fund raising for Archie is going on through The Tree of Hope Children’s Charity.
Donations can be made via http://www.treeofhope.org.uk/very-little-quality-of-life/ and by visiting www.justgiving.com/Archie-page
Already £3,500 has been raised since efforts stated in November. A weekend moneyspinner involved a team from Baypoint leisure centre near Sandwich taking part in The Nuts Challenge over an extreme obstacle course at Dorking. The participants were Steve Hopper, Paul, Emma and Charlotte Nettleingham and Kay Saunders.
Archie’s Nearly New Sale, including toys, clothes and cakes, will take place from noon to 3pm, on Saturday, April 26, at Holy Trinity Church hall, Cliftonville.
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