Help give Billy wheels

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DISABLED Chatteris youngster Billy Weaver has come on leaps and bounds since being given a computer by a local haulage firm following an appeal in the Citizen.

Now the family are hoping to make him more mobile by raising enough cash to buy him a special electric wheelchair.

The computer was provided by March-based Savage Haulage in November after Billy’s parents, Maria and Steven, launched an appeal through the Citizen to raise enough money to buy a touch screen computer.

They hoped the computer would help Billy, who has a rare debilitating condition which means he is classed as quadraplegic, with his communication.

And it has proved a huge help for Billy, who celebrates his third birthday today (Wednesday).

“He absolutely loves it. His whole face lights up and he just loves using it. We have got him a football game where he has to push a large red button to kick the ball and score a goal - and he gets really excited.

“He loves football, he really enjoys watching it - I would love for him to be able to stand up one day and kick a ball for real - but whether that will happen it is difficult to say,” explained Maria.

Billy has regular physiotherapy sessions as his condition - he has cerebeller hyperplasia - means he suffers from muscle stiffness and spasms in his limbs - particularly his legs.

But he is doing well and Maria said the physiotherapist believes he would be able to use an electric wheelchair, which would give him more independence and mobility.

“He does get frustrated, he is currently in a buggy - which makes him look like a baby - but he is not a baby. The hood gets in the way when he is at pre-school, it really isn’t ideal,” said Maria.

The physiotherapist also recommends Billy has a standing frame for school, but because he has one at home the family will have to buy a second one for school.

“I have found out it is a postcode lottery. If we lived up the road in Warboys rather than in Chatteris we could get funding for the equipment Billy needs.

“Instead we have to buy it ourselves. My husband already works seven days a week so we can make ends meet. We are not on any benefits and we pay our way, but it is difficult.

“The equipment Billy needs is expensive I have been told an electric wheelchair could cost between £2,000 and £10,000 depending on his individual needs as they are bespoke.

“A therapy bench to help him with his physio at home is between £500 and £700 and there are also therapy ladders which can be attached to the walls to help him pull himself up. There is so much out there, which could be useful for Billy but it all costs money,” said Maria.

And that is why the family is renewing their fundraising efforts. Thanks to the generosity of Savage Haulage they already have £1,500 in a special account for Billy.

Some of the money was raised by a Halloween party in November and £500 was raised by Ely Runners, who completed a marathon and gave their sponsorship to Billy.

The family spent some money on a swimming ticket and Billy enjoys a swim everyday as a result.

“He absolutely loves it, he has a ring and he can just float and do his own thing,” said Maria.

This Sunday (February 20) the family is holding a Billy’s Birthday Family Day at the White Swan Inn in High Street, Bluntisham. It is open for anyone to attend with admission £2 per child and is aimed at youngsters aged one to eight or nine. It will run from 12pm to 2pm. There is no need to book, just turn up and pay on the door. There will be a children’s entertainer, party games, goody bags and party food.

Other events in the pipeline include a parachute jump and an Ann Summers Party.and a quiz night on Sunday March 13 at the Sportsman at Chatteris from 8pm. Entry £5 per team of up to six.

The family, who are trying to get registered as a charity through the Cordwell Children’s Charity, have set up a special Norwich and Peterborough Building Society account which people can use to make donations.

Donations can be made at any branch quoting: sort code: 08-60-81, account number: 35648728.