Cash pours in for Blake’s dream operation

Little Blake's dream of walking is a step closer – thanks to you.

The parents of a little boy longing for a life-changing operation to help him walk have received a phenomenal response to their �50,000 fundraising appeal. Debbie and Luke Barley only launched Blake's Wish 2 Walk last week, but have already received more than �7,000 in donations from the community.

Three-year-old Blake, from Toftwood, was born 10 weeks early and developed a form of cerebral palsy after suffering a bleed on his brain.

The cheery youngster endures chronic pain, and permanent stiffness in his leg muscles prevents him from walking, standing or playing independently.

Blake's family hopes to raise �50,000 to fly him to America for pioneering surgery so he can leave behind his walking frame and uncomfortable leg splints to take his first special steps.

The appeal featured on the front page of last Thursday's Times, and the Barleys received their first offer of help at 8.15am that very morning.

'It's just been so overwhelming, I have spent the last few days crying with joy,' Mrs Barley, 33, said. 'It really lightens the soul when people who don't even know Blake are touched by him.

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'People who don't have a lot of money themselves are wanting to help in their own little way – it's so moving. A lot of people are wishing us well and we have received some lovely notes.'

The couple hope to have raised enough money for the operation by early next year so they can fly Blake for treatment at St Louis Children's Hospital, in Missouri, as soon as possible.

An anonymous donor this week offered to pay their travel expenses – expected to cost at least �2,000 – and to even fly out some extended family members to visit them during their month-long stay in the states.

Their generous donation means that Blake's big sister Beth, nine, and brother Bryce, seven, may be able to visit, easing the pain of separation.

'It has made such a big difference,' Mrs Barley said. 'It would be so hard to leave them behind. We have never been separated before, let alone for a month.'

There is still a long way to go, but Blakes Wish 2 Walk has got off to a flying start.

Mattishall Golf Club raised �587.87 when it held the appeal's first fundraiser on Sunday. Blake was guest of honour at the charity day and helped to present the prizes.

Captain Noel Alexander decided to support the appeal after hearing about Blake's situation, and the whole club got behind him.

'He's an incredibly charismatic character and you can't help but love him,' he said. 'There's so much about him that will take him through all the adversity and turmoil.

'They are such a lovely family and I just wanted to help in any way I could. I put it to the committee and they said let's go for it.'

Demand for the operation, called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), means it is not readily available on the NHS and its limited availability in the UK has also ruled out the option of paying for private treatment. Without the surgery, Blake's secondary complications, including a partially dislocated hip, will worsen and doctors have already warned that he will need to use a wheelchair by the time he starts nursery at Toftwood Infant School in September.

'We are extremely thankful for everyone's support,' Mrs Barley added. 'It's been very emotional. It doesn't matter if it's �1 or �10, it's just knowing that people are thinking of him.'

The family are having an information stand about the appeal at Toftwood school's summer fair, being held from 5.30pm to 7.30pm tomorrow (Friday).

There will also be the chance to find out more about a sponsored motorcycle marathon being held next month.

l To find out more or to make a donation, click on Cheques, made payable to Blake Barley Appeal, can also be posted to 67 Stone Road, Toftwood, Dereham, NR19 1LH.

l Call Mrs Barley on 01362 693452 to donate a raffle prize.