Observer readers show their support for Toby

Mark and Sadie Middleon hand the cheque to the Booker family at the Petworth Discovery Half Marathon
Mark and Sadie Middleon hand the cheque to the Booker family at the Petworth Discovery Half Marathon

READERS of the Observer have spoken this week of their hopes for six-year-old Toby Booker and their willingness to help his campaign.

The newspaper is supporting Help Toby Run With His Friends, an appeal to £40,000 to pay for an operation and the intensive physiotherapy aftercare he needs.

Toby, of Havelock Road, Bognor Regis, has cerebral palsy and wears splints most of the time. He can walk a little but wants to be able to keep up with his friends.

Observer readers have sent in a total of £165 in the past week, which has been passed on to parents Ian and Jess Booker.

Co-ordinator Elaine Hammond said: “It was such a great pleasure to hand the donations over to the family. Our readers have been absolutely brilliant and so supportive, it is amazing.”

One reader wrote: “I hope Toby has the chance to run with his friends. I have four grandchildren who love running. The freedom, the feel of wind in the hair, just the joy of it all.”

Mr and Mrs Nastri sent in £20 and Mr Nastri wrote to say: “Toby, my wife and I send our sincere best wishes to you.

“We hope your operation is successful and may God be with you for all the way, and forever. Good luck for the future.”

The appeal, launched in May, raised more than £7,000 in the first month – 17.5 per cent of the target. Ian said with donations that have come in and are expected in June, the total should top £10,000 by the end of this month.

He said: “A massive thank you to everyone who has helped us. Words cannot express how much this means to us.”

Recent fundraising has included £2,800 raised by Mark and Sadie Middleton in the Petworth Discovery Half Marathon.

Sadie said: “It was a beautiful morning for the Discovery Run, an exciting new off-road trail running event at Petworth Park.

“A range of challenges were offered, including 5k, 10k, half-marathon, plus a kids run and canicross events.

“We knew to expect an undulating course but definitely felt it tested our abilities despite copious amounts of hill training.Nevertheless, the location was stunning and the day was enjoyed by all and with some fantastic achievements.”

Mark and Sadie finished the half-marathon race together, with a time of 2:29:09 and 2:29:10 respectively.

Sadie added: “All our efforts were rewarded with an unusual wooden medal, a t-shirt and goodie bag.”

Other runs coming up include members of Knightstar Productions competing in Run or Dye at Standstead Park on September 20.

Staff at Funtington Primary School, where Jess is a teacher, will be taking part in the Fishbourne Flats on the same day.

To keep up to date with events planned to support the campaign, and for news from the family, visit

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.

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