REPORTER Ollie McAteer and sports editor Allan Norbury are donning their running trainers in a bid to raise record-breaking amounts for children with Cerebral Palsy.
The Dame Vera Lynn Trust School for Parents in Five Oaks, near Billingshurst, provides a specialist service for families of young children with the disability - which can cause impaired muscle coordination amongst other complications.
The award-winning school is used by parents across the South of England. Mother Kerry Chiddle shared her story with us.
“The initial shock that every parent in this situation experiences is hard to put into words, you have mixed feelings of anger, sadness, worry and the constant nagging question; why me?” Kerry told the County Times.
“Already having two young boys, it was excitement mixed with surprise when I found out I was expecting twins.”
Kerry explained how everything was going to plan when without warning, seven months into pregnancy, twins Aime and Bethany were born seven weeks early, weighing just under 3lb each.
“After leaving hospital it soon became apparent during the first couple of months that they were not both developing at the same level, it was little things like reaching up, rolling over or clutching things,” continued Kerry, “Aime seemed to be able to do all these things much quicker and easier than Bethany.”
At eight months, Bethany was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
The family’s priority was to find out what support was available to their baby.
In May 2009 they paid what would be their first of many visits to the Dame Vera Lynn Trust School for Parents in Five Oaks.
“We were overwhelmed by the warm and welcoming atmosphere. We came away with a very positive attitude as to how this wonderful school could help Bethany.”
At the school, set up in 2001, parents and children under the age of five learn daily living skills together using the principles of Conductive Education.
Bethany started that June, and the results have been outstanding, explains Kerry.
“The School for Parents teaches parents how to apply the principles of Conductive Education into everyday life at home involving the whole family.
“Bethany is now three years old and is able to play throwing a ball with her older brothers and join in with lots of other activities.
“Dealing with the emotional and physical aspect of having a child with cerebral palsy has been made so much easier by meeting parents in a similar situation and knowing you are not alone.”
She added: “The Dame Vera Lynn Trust School for Parents is a very special place. I do not know what we would have done without them.”
But ‘special’ comes at a cost. The trust rely entirely on the support of the community to raise the £575,000 needed this year to ensure the vital and much-loved service continues.
The County Times duo are running the Brighton Marathon on April 15 in a bid to raise as much as possible for the worthy cause.
Ollie said: “The Chiddles are just one of nearly 100 families that benefit from the Trust’s amazing facilities and enthusiastic staff.
“£7,500 is enough money to put on child with Cerebral Palsy through a year of schooling. Please help us make this possible.”