What next for little Blake?

Blake's fund-raising target may have been met, but the journey towards his first steps is only just beginning.

All the appeal events already planned will still take place and every penny raised will be put to good use, helping the youngster to find his feet after surgery.

It is likely that Blake will get worse before he gets better and the three-year-old will need to under go intensive physiotherapy when he returns from the States.

'We set �50,000 as a target based on information from other families,' Mrs Barley said. 'That was the money we needed to get to America for the operation and start his after care. We won't know until afterwards how much money we will need to get him strong again.

'It is impossible for us to give a precise financial figure for Blake's SDR journey, however we have made it clear that any monies left after Blake's care is complete will be donated to another child in Blake's position.'

As an absolute minimum, Blake will require professional physiotherapy three times a week for the first six months after surgery.

After then, he will need at least weekly sessions for another 18 months, as well as regular swimming, cycling and horse riding - all of which need to be paid for.

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'The NHS is unable to tell us how much physiotherapy it will give us until they have assessed Blake after his operation,' Mrs Barley said.

'But we have been told by medical staff in America that Blake must have physiotherapy the day after he flies back, so we now have to find a private paediatric physiotherapist.

'It's not just getting Blake's legs strong again - it's his co-ordination and balance. We need to build up the muscles in his legs, ankles and feet that he doesn't currently have to use because of his splints.

'We will be working with Blake every day and will need to purchase equipment that will keep him interested in his physiotherapy. We will have to make him work without realising what he's doing and make it into a game.'

The operation is not a cure, but Blake's parents are confident that it is their son's best option.

'Blake will always have cerebral palsy and will have to work hard all his life to stay fit,' Mrs Barley added. 'But without the operation we have been told Blake will have to wear leg splints until the age of 18 or when he stops growing.

'From our point of view, fund-raising was the start of the journey, but from Blake's point of view it all starts after the surgery. The chances are he will be worse before he gets better, but his long-term chances of better mobility will be dramatically improved.'

o To find out more about Blake's appeal, the ball or to make a donation, click on www.blakeswish2walk.co.uk or call Mrs Barley on 01362 693452. Cheques, payable to Blake Barley Appeal, can be posted to 67 Stone Road, Toftwood, Dereham, NR19 1LH.