Penny scheme boosts Thomas' surgery total
Published by Kelly Elliott for Cestria Community Housing in Housing and also in Communities
Five-year-old Thomas Brennan, pictured with staff from Cestria, FHM (part of Keepmoat), Springs Roofing, Hayton & Lamb, BP Scaffolding, Brenwood Fencing and Ultegra.
Contractors and Housing Association staff have raised more than £1,200 to help send a County Durham schoolboy to America for a pioneering operation.
Five-year-old Thomas Brennan suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy – a condition he calls his ‘crazy legs’ – which leaves him in constant pain and unable to walk more than a few steps.
Now staff at Cestria Community Housing, along with their contractors FHM, part of Keepmoat, and subcontractors have donated £1,270.61 to help pay for surgery in Missouri which will allow Thomas to walk freely for the first time.
The money was raised through a Penny Scheme, with one penny donated for every incident free hour worked by staff at Keepmoat, Springs Roofing, Hayton & Lamb, BP Scaffolding, Brenwood Fencing and Ultegra, on properties belonging to Chester-le-Street social landlord, Cestria.
Thomas’s fundraising campaign is a cause close to the hearts of many Cestria employees, as the youngster’s grandmother Mary Ormston works for the Association.
Community Engagement Officer Mary said she had been touched by the generosity of her colleagues and Cestria’s contractor partners.
She said: “Everyone has been amazing and the whole family is so grateful. This operation will give Thomas the chance of a normal, pain-free life.
“Being able to see him running around with the other children his age will be fantastic and without the support of local businesses such as Keepmoat and the other contractors, the operation wouldn’t have been able to take place.”
The surgery Thomas is undergoing, which involves severing a nerve in his spine, is most effective if carried out before the age of six. It is not available on the NHS and with long waiting lists for surgeons in the UK his family were advised that travelling to America would offer the best chance of success.
Following the operation, the youngster, who is a pupil at St Joseph’s RC Primary School, in Ushaw Moor, will spend five weeks recovering in America before flying home, where he will undergo months of intensive physiotherapy.
Cestria’s technical officer Dave Tate came up with the idea for the Penny Scheme and said all Cestria’s contractors had been keen to get involved.
He said: “We had seen a similar scheme carried out when the work to widen the A1 was going on and thought it was a great idea – it encourages health and safety and also raises money for good causes.
“We all knew about Thomas because Mary works at Cestria and we agreed that the money should to go towards paying for his operation.”
Heather Miller, from Cestria’s main contractor Keepmoat, said: “Everyone has been right behind the Penny Scheme – knowing the money was going to help a local family was great and it was wonderful for all the subcontractors involved to be able to meet Thomas and hand the cheque over.”
The local community has got right behind Thomas’ fundraising campaign, with more than £42,000 of the £55,000 total needed raised since February.
At Cestria, staff have contributed by taking part in a Coast to Coast sponsored cycle, selling cakes and running games and raffles.
Cestria’s tenants have also got involved, with members of the Lambourne Steering Group, which runs Cestria’s Lambourne Communal Room, donating more than £1,000 raised during a recent fair.
Thomas flies to America today with his operation taking place in a few days time.
To donate to his fund, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/help-thomas-reach-the-moon-and-stars/
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