THE Free Press is backing the appeal of a Caldicot mum who is aiming to raise £40,000 for a pioneering operation to help her daughter walk on her own.

Catherine Ashwell-Rice said she is touched by the support and donations of more than £1,250 in the first fortnight to help her daughter Imogen Ashwell-Lewis.

Now the Free Press is calling on more individuals and organisations to donate.

St Mary’s RC Primary in Chepstow and the Round Table branch are among local organisations to have pledged support by organising a non-uniform day and offering their manpower at fundraising events.

Ms Ashwell-Rice, 36, of Lapwing Avenue, launched the Help Imogen Walk campaign through the Tree of Hope charity so that Imogen, two, can have a radical procedure to save her from relying on a wheelchair.

Ms Ashwell-Rice said: “I’m really glad the Free Press have felt able to help us publicise our appeal. The publicity is not only raising awareness of Imogen’s case but also the fact that this life-changing surgery is not available on the NHS.”

Imogen was born 11 weeks early weighing 3lb 2oz. She suffers from a debilitating nerve-muscle condition known as spastic diplegia cerebral palsy, which means she walks on her toes, has stiffness in her legs and poor balance and co-ordination.

The mum-of-eight hopes a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) will help avoid further muscle deterioration and stiffness.

In the first fortnight £1,275 came in, with one anonymous donation of £750.

To help, email or visit Facebook page Help-Imogen-walk or