Family “in shock” after community raises £10,000 to fund treatment to help their four-year-old daughter walk

Debbie Bowyer, with her daughter Olivia and son Jack Thwaites.

Debbie Bowyer, with her daughter Olivia and son Jack Thwaites. - Credit: Archant

This could be the year a four-year-old girl is finally able to walk on her own after a Broadcast-backed campaign helped raise more than £10,000 to fund potentially “life-changing” treatment.

Following an incredible response from the community, Olivia Bowyer, who suffers from global developmental delay and has the mental age of an 18-month-old, will now be able to start an intense course of physiotherapy in Colchester.

The youngster is unable to walk on her own because of her condition and her family were told if she was not walking by five, she may never start.

Two months ago the Broadcast published Olivia’s plight and in eight weeks the family’s £5,000 target to pay for the physiotherapy was doubled.

Her parents, Raymond, 49, and Debbie, 40, of Petches Bridge, Great Bardfield, are “delighted” that she can finally get the physiotherapy she needs.

Debbie, who also has a 13-year-old son Jack Thwaites, said: “We were so shocked – we just could not believe it. I always hoped we would get the £5,000 but never in a million years did I think we would have £10,000.

“We are so grateful to everybody who has donated and held events for Olivia. It is so surprising that people who we don’t even know would do this – the community really came together.

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“It means the world to us. It just feels so surreal. I want to burst into tears. We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our hearts.”

Olivia had her first consultation at Kids Physio 2 U, in Colchester, last month and she is booked in for her first physiotherapy session on January 17. She will be going to the centre once a week.

“There is no guarantee that this will work but we left the consultation feeling extremely positive,” Debbie added.

“Olivia being able to walk would change our whole lives. We would be able to do more as a family and Jack could play with his sister properly, without someone always having to be with her. She would be able to keep up with her peers and run around with them. It really would change her life – she could be a normal four-year-old.”

As the total was far more than the family ever expected, they can now put the money towards other treatments for Olivia, such as speech and language therapy to help her speak more clearly.

Debbie said: “There is so much more we can now do to help Olivia. We are hoping that 2015 will be our year.

“We can have a fresh start and get Olivia what she needs.”

After the initial article, the Broadcast was inundated with calls from readers asking how they could make donations to the fund.

Money was raised in a variety of different ways. The Great Dunmow Town Team donated more than £1,000 after holding a raffle and the Great Dunmow Round Table also made a big donation.

Dunmow firefighter Michael Gold was so touched by Olivia’s story he called up the day after the first article was published to donate £1,000 to the cause.