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Deal and Dover community campaign update - How has your money helped?

By Eleanor Perkins

We're often asked why we cover so many community campaigns.

And the answer is: That's what we do best!

So here's a round-up of each of the fundraising drives we've backed in recent years, and with your support, we've helped many of them achieve their dreams.

Elana Lamb can enjoy trips to the park thanks to her new set of wheels
Elana Lamb can enjoy trips to the park thanks to her new set of wheels

Elana's Wheels

Elana Lamb's new wheels have allowed the toddler to enjoy the great outdoors this summer.

The youngster, who turns three this month, has used her Hoggi 2 specialist pushchair for trips to the park, the seaside and Peppa Pig World.

It's made life a lot easier for her grandmother Ann Gardiner, of St Richard’s Road, Deal, who launched a £5,000 appeal to purchase it in September 2017.

She said: "Elana's chair has made a massive difference to us both.

"For me it's a pleasure to push, with easy manoeuvrability. For Elana it's a large comfy arm chair that takes her everywhere. We would like to thank you all."

Elana Lamb's pushchair has enabled her to enjoy trips to the beach
Elana Lamb's pushchair has enabled her to enjoy trips to the beach

Elana has a likely diagnosis of hypomyelinating leukodystrophy. The rare disease means she has reduced white matter on her brain causing seizures and she may only live to be eight years old.

Left over funds raised by the community went towards a sensory garden and play equipment.

Mrs Gardiner said: "Elana is such a happy girl and developing well at her own pace.

"She has changed play school and we are now thinking about primary schools for next September.

"We still have regular appointments with doctors and therapists and will be starting speech therapy soon.

"She has also been registered partially sighted but as a family we are pleased she is developing and so are the doctors."

Freddie Penny on holiday in Turkey after stem cell therapy to improve his eye sight
Freddie Penny on holiday in Turkey after stem cell therapy to improve his eye sight

Fund for Freddie

Little Freddie Penny is now up on his feet and will soon start learning how to use a cane following stem cell therapy in Thailand.

A Mercury-backed appeal launched in October 2016 saw the community raise £25,000 to enable the blind toddler to fly out to the Unique Access Hospital in Bangkok the following May.

It was hoped the 14-day treatment would improve his eyesight.

Mum Robyn Gough, from Deal, says specialists are confident that Freddie has gained some light perception but can't confirm it at this early stage.

She said: "Since his treatment he has started to talk so much more and is able to communicate better.

Freddie Penny, now three and a half, has started to walk unaided since his treatment and will soon start cane training
Freddie Penny, now three and a half, has started to walk unaided since his treatment and will soon start cane training

"Within the past few weeks he has successfully started to walk unaided for the first time. His balance is a little wobbly still but this is a massive step for Freddie.

"His confidence has built up significantly meaning he will be able to start cane training now that he is up on his feet.

"He is due a check up with this ophthalmologist later this year which we will know more then if there has been any more progress with his sight and growth of his optic nerve.

"Overall he is progressing slowly but surely and I am very proud of him."

Theo Knott can now sit cross legged and even walk backwards
Theo Knott can now sit cross legged and even walk backwards

Theo's Mission to Walk

Kicking a ball and walking backwards unaided are two things Theo Knott is able to do following his SDR surgery.

The community raised £72,000 in six months to enable the six-year-old who has cerebral palsy to undergo the operation to reduce spasticity.

Mum Naomi Morton, of College Road, Deal, says the change in her son is truly indescribable since the op at Great Ormond Street Hospital last June.

She said: "We have not looked back!

"SDR surgery has given Theo so many new opportunities and the changes in his life have been incredible.

"To see Theo move freely and embrace his new body knowing the spasticity that once ruled his life will never have that control over him again is truly indescribable.

"As Theo says his new legs are awesome.

Theo Knott conquers the steps up the slide following his surgery
Theo Knott conquers the steps up the slide following his surgery

"At first it was the simple things that Theo achieved and that people easily take for granted like sitting crossed legged, standing unaided and, best of all, kicking a ball!

"Then at eight weeks post-op Theo continued to progress and took his first unaided steps something that we was told when he was little that would never achieve.

"Theo is now learning to jump and has completed hurdles and obstacles and he has even walked backwards unaided."

The St Mary's Primary School pupil has attended physiotherapy twice a week for the last 14 months as well private riding and swimming lessons and blocks of physio in Colchester every half term.

Ms Morton added: "Theo has shown what a determined little boy he is and that is why he continues to progress the way he has and for that we are so proud of him!"

"The physio will continue for the next couple of years and although Theo uses his frame to run around you never know what the next few years will bring to him so thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Ellice Barr waiting to go swimming as part of her physiotherapy
Ellice Barr waiting to go swimming as part of her physiotherapy

Ellice's Wish to Walk

Squatting, swimming and climbing steps are just some examples of what Ellice Barr has achieved following her SDR surgery less than a month ago.

The six-year-old from Deal was discharged from Great Ormond Street Hospital [GOSH] two weeks after the major operation which aimed to reduce the spasticity in her legs, helping her to walk unaided.

It was thanks to the people of Deal and Dover who donated more than £65,000 towards Ellice's Wish to Walk, a campaign launched by her parents Joe and Amy Barr last November.

The Downs Primary School pupil will continue to attend three to four physiotherapy sessions a week including a four-day session booked at an expert personal rehabilitation centre in Basingstoke in September. She must also return to GOSH for an 8-10 week check up.

Ellice Barr practices how to squat following her SDR surgery
Ellice Barr practices how to squat following her SDR surgery

Mr Barr said: "We've been told that the operation was a huge success.

"The results are all positive. Spasticity has gone in the places we hoped for such as her calves. All ranges are good. Some better than had been expected.

"Ellice is still smiling as we come to the end of the three weeks and she's been given a well deserved weekend off.

"We'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone for this opportunity."

Money raised for Kelly Turner will be used to save others.
Money raised for Kelly Turner will be used to save others.

Kelly Turner

Our most prolific campaign to date is when we got behind a campaign to raise £1 million for life-saving surgery for a teenager with a rare cancer.

Kelly Turner, 17, of Dover, needed specialist treatment in New York for desmoplastic small round cell tumours (DSRCT) but died from the illness last November 6.

Fundraising began in June 2016, and reaped almost £623,000 to date.

The initial campaign to save Kelly got a huge public response, with events being held continually for her and our sister paper, the Mercury, gave near-weekly coverage.

The newspaper held a summer ball at the Courtyard in Sondes Road, Deal, raising £2,000 for the cause with thanks to Jonothan Bowles of Run Ashore roving diners club that September.

Kelly's campaign reached a level that meant she could travel for the initial operation and continue fundraising for follow-up treatment.

But Kelly held off to complete her GCSEs and rest while she was well. Sadly her illness took hold of her suddenly last November and she died.

Kelly Turner collected her GCSE results with mum and dad Linda and Martin in 2017.
Kelly Turner collected her GCSE results with mum and dad Linda and Martin in 2017.

Hundreds packed into St Mary's Church, Dover, and lined the streets nearby for her funeral.

Now the fundraising continues through the Kelly Turner Foundation with all money received during and after her lifetime, going for research into DSRCT to save other victims.

Donations are still being made and are continually being sent on to the Institute of Cancer Research.

Kelly's father Martin Turner said: "The money raised is ring-fenced purely for DSRCT research to help others.

"The Mercury has been fabulous in its support as a newspaper."

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