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Roz Sissons from Whitstable raises money for Martha, 2, with cerebral palsy to access garden

By Lydia Chantler-Hicks

The family of a two-year-old with cerebral palsy are raising money so she can play in their back garden safely.

Martha Sissons was diagnosed with the condition in November after mum Roz grew concerned about her trouble walking.

The family moved into a bungalow in the hope she would have better long-term accessibility - but because of cracked, irregular patio paving behind their home, the little girl cannot access the garden to play with her sisters without falling over.

Martha Sissons. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958568)
Martha Sissons. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958568)

Roz, 28, said: "I had some little worries about Martha when she first started walking. She fell quite often and didn't take off properly on her feet until about 18 months.

"I work for the children's therapy team as a care coordinator at Kent and Canterbury Hospital - I support families with children with disabilities and work closely with physiotherapists - and knew things weren't right."

After specialists diagnosed Martha - now almost three - with diplegic cerebral palsy, the family decided to move to a bungalow in Saddleton Road, Whitstable.

Martha Sissons, 2, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in November. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958572)
Martha Sissons, 2, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in November. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958572)

"It was partly because we don't know how it will be in future," said Roz. "We thought it safer, and this way we knew we weren't going to have to move house again.

"Another main attraction is its lovely garden - it's lovely for Martha and her sisters to play in."

But Martha - whose disability leaves her struggling with balance and coordination and relying on regular physiotherapy to aid her walking - has trouble navigating the garden's irregular surface independently.

'She is such a determined little girl, and doesn't ever let her disability stop her' - Roz Sissons

"It has all moved and cracked over the years, and is very uneven to walk on," said Roz. "It's been neglected for a very long time. The little old lady that lived there before we moved in was 100.

"Unfortunately this means Martha can't access the garden safely without being carried out as she's unable to manage the cracked surface safely without falling and hurting herself.

Martha has trouble navigating the garden's uneven paving. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958570)
Martha has trouble navigating the garden's uneven paving. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958570)

"I can't just open the back door and let them play.

"Elsie, who's five, is fine - she'll go out and it'll be OK. But when Elsie goes out Martha wants to go out - she is such a determined little girl, and doesn't ever let her disability stop her.

"Then I have to stop what I'm doing and go help her - she can't do it alone. She falls and grazes her knees and hands. If she wants to come back inside for the bathroom or to get a toy, I have to be there constantly to help her.

"If it was flat and level she could run in and out as easily as Elsie does.

Sisters Martha, Hettie and Elsie. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958566)
Sisters Martha, Hettie and Elsie. Pic: Roz Sissons (9958566)

"She absolutely loves to be outdoors, and I hate the fact she can't get out there to enjoy it with her sisters without extra help."

After adapting other parts of their home to cater for Martha's needs, the family has been left with the funds to correct the problem.

"We had to spend the last of our money on putting in a drop kerb and a driveway so we can park close to the house to get the girls in and out of the car, as Martha often has to be carried," Roz explained.

Roz and Adam Sissons, with their daughters Elsie, Hettie and Martha. Pic: Roz Simmons (9958270)
Roz and Adam Sissons, with their daughters Elsie, Hettie and Martha. Pic: Roz Simmons (9958270)

Now she and husband Adam have launched fundraiser Martha's Garden, through which they hope to raise £2,200, so the garden can be levelled out.

"Any donation helps, even the smallest amount," said Roz. "We're so grateful for every penny raised."

To donate, visit the Martha's Garden fundraising page.

For more human interest stories, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable

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