A fundraising drive which will help ensure a little girl can walk unaided for the first time has reached its target.
Family, friends and generous members of the public have raised £21,000 for little Evaline Weaver, a five-year-old from Great Sutton who has cerebral palsy.
Dad Tim joked it has been “the Evaline show” for the past year as the community came together in support of his daughter, who needs an operation – not available on the NHS – which will give her a much greater range of movement.
An online fundraising page set up by Tim and wife Becky early last year hit its target a few weeks ago – giving the family the perfect Christmas present.
“It was brilliant news to be fair,” said Tim. “It's been quite hard work but now it's a weight off for us. We've just got the next work to come now – the operation.”
The appeal for Evaline touched the hearts of many people, including members of the Rotary Club of Ellesmere Port who helped raise a large portion of the £21,000 required.
Evaline Weaver with mum Becky and sister Elethia, aged two.
When the target was hit, members of the rotary club invited Evaline and her family to meet Father Christmas in his grotto at the Burleydam Garden Centre in Childer Thornton, where she was presented with a Christmas card informing her of the good news.
“She was vibrating with excitement,” said Tim. “She said 'well done, Daddy. You've done very well there'. It's been the Evaline show for the past year!”
It was former Rotary Club of Ellesmere Port president Bill Bradley who contacted Evaline's parents to offer help with hitting the target.
At the time, the amount raised was at £9,000.
Mr Bradley teamed up with fellow rotary club member Gordon Vickers and arranged a series of events which brought the money rolling in. Mr Vickers' Mill Hotel and Spa in Chester hosted a Vegas-themed casino night, while there was also a race night held at a rotary club meeting. Mr Bradley made 200 wooden reindeer which he sold for £10 each – raising £2,000 in total.
Other organisations and members of the community got involved, including fundraiser Craig Jarvis who organised some events. Becky's employers, Twisted Barrels tattoo parlour in Chester, also helped out as did Tim's former employers, Ellesmere Port firm Barbour ABI.
Evaline, who was born seven weeks early, has cerebral palsy in her lower limbs which means she needs to use sticks to help her walk. She is unable to do tasks that most children her age take for granted – such as using the toilet unsupervised or dress unsupported.
The youngster is booked in for her operation at Alder Hey Children's Hospital on April 13 – and the procedure will be followed by three weeks of physiotherapy.
Surgeons will loosen the muscles in her legs, allowing her range of movement to increase and, hopefully, paving the way for her to be able to walk unaided.
“I'd like to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone who has helped us reach our target,” said Tim.