Just one year ago Sebastian Skinner’s parents couldn’t imagine their son walking unaided, but this week the four-year-old stepped into school life on his first day at Richard Taylor School.
Dressed smartly in his blue uniform, Dad Leigh Skinner, 37 and mum Selina Skinner, 35, were filled with pride watching him run off to join his classmates.
Selina said: “I wasn’t as emotional as I thought I would be, he is ready for school. It’s amazing to see how far he has come since his operation.”
Last August the family launched a campaign to raise £75,000 to pay for life changing SDR surgery in the US which is not currently funded on the NHS.
Sebastian, who was born nine weeks premature, has Cerebral Palsy which affected the muscles in his legs and his balance, walking, flexibility and mobility.
He was diagnosed with spastic diplegia, a form of Cerebral Palsy when he was 18 months old.
Following months of fundraising which included local schools raising money on National Cerebral Palsy day, and friends and colleagues of the family cycling 300 miles, the family raised the money needed for the pioneering operation.
In May the family flew to St Louis, Missouri, for five weeks and Sebastian underwent surgery and intensive physiotherapy.
“Just looking at his legs now, its a world of difference. He can run , jump and play with the other boys and girls now, its boosted his confidence no end too, before he couldn’t keep up to play with other children, now he can hang out with them.”
At one point, before the operation, Selina feared that Sebastian was going to be wheelchair bound within a matter of months as his condition had deterioated so much.
She said: “He was just falling over more and more and I thought what else can we do?”
Sebastian’s younger sister, Darcy who will turn two this month, was late at starting to walk and Selina said: “It was very stressful and worrying time for me.”
But then the turning point came during one of Sebastian’s post-op physiotherapy sessions, when Darcy, inspired by her big brother’s success decided it was time to take her first steps.
“Just seeing both my children walking together at the same time, it was a very emotional moment. That was the point when I realised things were working out, it was going to be okay.”
The bubbly four-year-old loves to show off his new ‘wiggle toes’ and jump around and hopes to start trampolining classes.
Selina hopes that the operation becomes widely available on the NHS. She said: “I do think it should be available on the NHS, it has changed the lives of hundreds of children, including Sebastian.”