Community rallies to help Olivia


Olivia - Credit: Archant

When little Olivia Bowyer started school in Stansted Mountfitchet aged four, she couldn’t walk, she could only crawl.

Now, a year on, Olivia is walking and running.

The difference has been made by physiotherapy paid for after fundraising by her family and friends, and generous donations from organisations including Dunmow Round Table.

Olivia, now five, is a pupil at Bentfield Primary, a mainstream school with special facilities for youngsters with special needs.

After music therapy at the school, she has started to sing and to enjoy learning new words, saying them over and over again with triumph.

Her mum, Deborah joked: “I always hope the car doesn’t break down because Olivia will be saying ‘glue!’ forty times.”

Now, Olivia’s friends and family are once again hoping to raise enough money to pay for speech therapy for the little girl who has been diagnosed with the syndrome global developmental delay.

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The term is broad spectrum so that it means different things for different children. Olivia, from Great Bardfield, was born with a weakness in her muscles so that she needs physiotherapy to strengthen them and she has a hypersensitivity to new places, so that she can be unsettled going to a different supermarket, for example. Her walking, speech and language are similar to a two-year-old’s. Other children with the syndrome could be further ahead or further behind.

Daily physiotherapy and the specialist speech therapy that Olivia needs are not available on the National Health.

Deborah says: “When Olivia was diagnosed as a baby, the NHS offered us physiotherapy every six to eight weeks. A lot of families with disabled children are in the same boat. We all need to fundraise for our children. We’ve all got Justgiving pages and we hold events. We have the same circle of friends, you can’t keep asking the same people for money.”

This summer, Deborah and a friend whose son has cerebral palsy jointly held a fun-day at the Horse and Groom in Cornish Hall End.

Deborah, husband Raymond and Olivia’s brother Jack, 13, say they are eternally grateful to all the friends and organisations who have rallied to their support some of whom they don’t even know because they have given online. Jack is a pupil at Helena Romanes in Great Dunmow who raised money with a sponsored silence and last year’s Christmas jumpers.

Deborah said: “So many people in Dunmow and Great Bardfield have helped us.”

Olivia’s physio costs £2,000 for a two-week block of a two-hour session a day. The speech therapy is £70 an hour.

Even though Olivia has started to walk and run, she still cannot climb up steps. If she sees a white line painted on the ground, she will stop because she cannot tell if it’s flat or something she will have to climb over.

Deborah said: “The school had an inset day and we had a day out at Paradise Wildlife Park. The other children were running around and going on the slides and Olivia can’t do that. I want her to be able to run and climb like the others. I just had to look away.

“You have to keep pushing. You want her to have the opportunities in the hope that one day she will catch up with her peers.”

If anyone would like to hold a fundraising event for Olivia, or help with one, please contact or call 01799 513053.

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