Oliver ready for his big day

Oliver Rushton playing at Brook Farm Nursery.
Oliver Rushton playing at Brook Farm Nursery.

A Barnoldswick tot is set for a life-changing operation on Thursday after a year long fund-raising effort has reached its conclusion.

Two-year-old Oliver Rushton, of Carr Road, will undergo the six-hour specialist Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy procedure at Leeds General Infirmary next week with the hope he will be able to walk in the long term.

He was born with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, which resulted in messages sent from his brain to his leg muscles becoming muddled, leaving him with an inability to walk.

Oliver has learned to get around by dragging himself with a combination of hands and forearms, but he does have use of a walking support frame.

His parents, Helen and Adam Rushton, began a campaign to raise funds for the youngster this time last year in the hope that one day he could have the operation.

That bid was stepped up early this year when it became apparent the NHS was not going to fund any of the cost of the operation or the lengthy rehabilitation programme Oliver will need.

However, Helen says the generosity of people in West Craven and the wider area has left the Rushton family “overwhelmed”, especially as it reached the remarkable figure of £35,000 within 12 months, meaning Oliver’s operation can be done at the optimum age.

That support has continued this summer as Skipton and Silsden Young Farmers held an It’s a Knockout-style event in June, raising £2,000-plus, while an event at Mario’s Restaurant in Gisburn Road, Barnoldswick, yielded around £750.

Late last month, Pauline Hunt, owner of Decisions plus sister shop Decisions, Decisions, presented a cheque to the Rushtons for £500 after choosing Operation Oliver has her charity cause for the year with funds raised by a raffle and gift wrapping.

Oliver’s day care centre, Brook Farm Nursery in Kelbrook, has handed over a further £800 from a summer fair and “grab and go” breakfast, eight of Helen’s midwife colleagues at Burnley General Hospital took part in a 10km total warrior assault course in the Lake District and several West Craven businesses have held collections.

Helen said: “Myself and Adam are feeling very anxious already, but we know that this will give Oliver the best quality of life.

“It is so difficult choosing to put your child through surgery and we have a long rehabilitation ahead. We will be forever indebted to those who have helped to get us. We are so grateful.

“Oliver is blissfully unaware of what is happening. We are sure he will take everything in his stride though and no doubt charm the nursing staff.”