Rogiet family raise £20k for tot's vital op

Free Press Series: RUBY: Ruby Atkins at the car wash event in Magor RUBY: Ruby Atkins at the car wash event in Magor

A CAMPAIGN to raise money for a three-year-old toddler to have a life changing operation has reached its halfway mark of £20,000.

Ruby Atkins, the three-year-old daughter of Rachael and Antony Atkins, of Rogiet, was born 10 weeks prematurely on Christmas Day, 2010. She was diagnosed with bilateral cerebral palsy when she was two and a half-years-old which restricts her mobility and her ability to walk unaided.

The Atkins family is hoping to raise £40,000 for the toddler to undergo an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) which involves opening up the spine and cutting nerves to reduce spasticity.

The family, with help from the community, have managed to raise more than £5,000 in the last month with £750 from an all day car wash, £500 from a coffee morning at Rogiet Community Church Hall and £500 from a sponsored head shave and waxing event at Mrs Atkins' work in the Ministry of Justice in Newport.

Andy Hosking, 42, a family friend, took part in the Abergavenny three peaks challenge raising £1,250 for Ruby on March 29. The project manager at Mabey Bridge climbed 20 miles across the Sugar Loaf, Skirrid and the Blorenge in eight and a half hours.

Antony Atkins, 37, a civil servant, said: "We are quite surprised and relieved to have reached the half way point, at first it seemed a massive feat to raise the funds. We are extremely grateful, the community have been very supportive, lots of people have been in contact with us wanting to raise money on Ruby's behalf.

"We still have a lot to go and now we are up against time as Ruby's assessment has been brought forward from August to next month which will be at the Great Ormond Hospital in London where we hope she will have the operation. In an ideal world we would want Ruby to have the operation by September."

He added: "This operation could change the outlook of Ruby's life all together. To walk independently would be such a joy, it's something you take for granted to be able to walk or play in the park."

Ruby currently relies on a kidwalk, which is a walking frame to move around. The operation is not currently being funded by the NHS and costs around £27,500, with a £10,000 aftercare programme of intense physiotherapy for a year.

A Caldicot Beatles tribute band will be playing at Dewstow Golf Club on August 16 to raise funds for the toddler and in September Mr Atkins along with three of his friends will be taking part in a bike ride from Paris to Magor which is set to take four days.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/freetowalk or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/rubyatkins.

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