Readers ‘very moved’ by six-year-old’s story

ks1500076-7 Ian and 'Jess Booker with Toby, six SUS-151205-181018008
ks1500076-7 Ian and 'Jess Booker with Toby, six SUS-151205-181018008

GENEROUS Observer readers have been sending in cheques to support the Help Toby Run With His Friends campaign.

Co-ordinator Elaine Hammond, Communities Champion at the Observer, said: “We are so grateful to our readers for the incredible response since we launched our campaign.

“People have been kind enough to support Toby and businesses are doing their bit, too, having read his story in the newspaper.

“Toby is a delightful little boy and the operation will make a world of difference to him. He can walk a little now but gets tired quite quickly.

“The selective dorsal rhizotomy will mean he will be better able to keep up with his lively two-year-old brother, Harry, and join in even more activities with his friends.”

This week, the Observer has received four cheques, totalling £230, which will be passed on to Toby’s parents, Ian and Jess Booker, of Havelock Road, Bognor Regis.

Andrew Chamberlain, of Felpham Road, Felpham, sent in a cheque for £100.

He said: “My wife and I were very moved by the article in the Observer about little Toby Booker.”

As well as personal donations, there have been fundraising events organised in the last few weeks.

Toby’s young friends at Barnham Primary School, where he is a pupil in year two, wanted to help. A group of ten boys and girls planned the Barnham Mini Dream Team 5k Walkathon, which they completed in fancy dress.

Ian and Jess said: “A huge thank you to Barnham Dream Team, who raised a whopping £2,000! Thank you so much for your wonderful support.”

Toby, six, is also getting support from his friends at 1st Barnham Scout Group, where is loves being part of the Beavers Colony. They are having a Scout family fun day on June 20, when a raffle will be held in aid of Toby.

Once the £40,000 has been raised, the life-changing operation will be carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. Toby’s spinal cord will be opened and the spinal cords which are causing his spasticity would be cut.

Toby and family have been invited to a the ‘SDR family day’ at the hospital, an international centre of excellence in child healthcare, to meet other families going through selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR). They will also be meeting the specialist team at the all-day event on Saturday, giving them a chance to share experiences and find out more.

SDR is not a cure for cerebral palsy. Reduction in spasticity is immediately apparent after the procedure but it takes time for the strength in the legs to return. Through the physiotherapy programme, Toby will learn to use his body in a new way.

Visit to make a donation online, or cheques can be made payable to Toby Booker SDR and sent to the Observer, c/o Elaine Hammond, Chichester Observer, City Gate, Southgate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 8DQ.