A two-year-old disabled toddler will be able to continue his vital therapy treatment thanks to a fundraising drive by the local farming community, which helped raise thousands of pounds.
Sam Billington, of Catterall, was born with a spastic quadriplegia, a severe form of cerebral palsy which has left him unable to stand, walk or talk.
His parents, Matt and Jocelyn, have been making daily trips to the Breathe for Life charity-run centre in Heysham for Sam to receive hyperbaric oxygen therapy – a costly treatment not funded by the NHS. Thanks to the efforts of the couple’s close friends and family, Sam will now be able to take his next course of treatment.
Mum Jocelyn said: “We don’t know what the future holds for Sam but we want to do as much as we possibly can to help as he gets bigger.
“Sam has very restricted movement – he can’t stand or talk and has limited use of his hands. He is totally dependant.
“But he is a very happy and determined little boy and he loves his sister, who is just brilliant with him and we just want to help him improve.”
Sam was born 10 weeks premature weighing 3lbs 5ources. He was kept in specialist care at Royal Preston Hospital for nine weeks, but it was only when he was five months old that Matt and Jocelyn noticed problems with his development.
Jocelyn said: “Sam was having trouble with his breathing and we realised he wasn’t developing properly – he wasn’t sitting up or holding his head.
“He was having regular check-ups with the paediatrician, but it wasn’t until he was one he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
“At the time it was so hard we really just felt like falling apart. “
The couple, also parents to Lily, 3, were referred to the Blackpool Victoria Blenham House Child Development Centre, who discussed with them different therapies Sam would need and various avenues for helping Sam through his development.
A family fundraiser earlier this summer raised cash for a specialist suit for Sam, but then Matt, who works with his dad on the family-run Stubbins Farm, was approached by family friend and local farmer Peter Robinson, who said he wanted to organise an event to help Sam.
Peter with wife Sue, daughters Jenny and Amy, friends Mark Robinson and Dickie Parker and an army of volunteers, hosted a hog roast and entertainment evening at their home, Longfield House Farm in Claughton.
The event was attended by 400 guests and included a disco, bar, raffle supported by local businesses and food supplied by Taylors of Bamber Bridge. The night raised £5,800.
Peter said: “I’ve always wanted to do an event for charity, but knowing Matt and Jocelyn and what they’ve been through with Sam, it was more personal and a nice thing to do.”
Jocelyn added: “It went extremely well – we feel so humbled and we are very lucky to be part of a community which comes together and helps. We had people making donations even though they couldn’t make it. Those on the night said it was like an young farmers’ reunion.”
The money will go to continuing Sam’s therapy sessions as well as new communication devices and equipment for the family’s home.