More than £50k raised to help Oscar walk unaided

January 26 2021

A FOUR-year-old boy with cerebral palsy is hoping to be able to walk independently thanks to money raised by generous strangers.

Four-year-old Oscar Cridge, from Longwell Green, with his Rovers and City kits

Oscar Cridge, from Longwell Green, needs specialist spinal surgery at Bristol Children’s Hospital. It will enable his legs to receive the correct signals from his brain so he can learn to walk without a frame.

The surgery isn’t available to him on the NHS so parents Emma and Shaun, age 31 and 37, need to raise almost £100,000 to pay for the operation and associated rehab, hydrotherapy, new specialist splints whenever he grows, and adaptations to their house to allow Oscar to get around.

Luckily a huge fundraising push over Christmas means they have enough to pay for the initial operation this summer.

Fundraising musician Darren Sims, known as Daz, heard about Oscar and decided to donate the proceeds of a Christmas single to his cause.

Put The Fairy On The Tree made it to number 19 in the official UK download charts and the video, which included an appearance from Oscar, spent a week being played on MTV. Money from sales of the single, as well as donations from the public, mean that over £50,000 has been raised so far to help Oscar.

This is welcome news to his family, whose Christmas was spent helping Oscar deal with intense pain following a lumbar puncture. They now face several gruelling months of Oscar having his legs repeatedly plastered into new positions to try and straighten them, after which they’ll need to pay £3,000 for splints that will fit the new angle of his feet.

Oscar, who is a pupil at Emersons Green Primary School, may need to stay off school during this treatment to avoid the risk of missing hospital treatments if he or a classmate catches coronavirus.

The operation would be life changing for the football-mad youngster, whose biggest dream is to have a kickabout with his friends.

Once he can finally do so, he’ll have all the right kit. Bristol Rovers, Bristol City and Bath City football clubs have each given Oscar his own club strip with his name on it, and he’s been invited to lead the Rovers team out onto the pitch once public matches resume.

In the meantime, he’s found fame elsewhere. Last month he appeared on The One Show as part of a surprise thank you to Daz, as well as on Sky News.

Shaun, who works in printing, said: “It’s such good news that we’ve come so far with the fundraising. It feels like we can relax a bit and focus on helping Oscar before we have to do another big push to raise money.

“Being able to walk independently would mean the world to Oscar. He wants to be like all the other kids.

Oscar with parents Emma and Shaun

“At school he tries to let go of his frame because he wants to run and chase with his friends but ends up falling over. He gets upset because he can’t do things like go to the toilet on his own and his current leg splints give him blisters and are painful to wear.

“It makes him so sad that when he gets home from school, he often says he wants to go straight to bed or be alone because he’s feeling low.

“It makes me angry that he can’t have this operation on the NHS. It’s not his fault he needs it and he just wants a chance to enjoy life like everyone else.”

When his parents noticed delays to baby Oscar crawling and walking he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which affects movement and can be caused by brain injury during birth. He was born prematurely by emergency c-section.

The Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) operation will involve shaving a nerve in his spine and cutting his hamstring muscles to allow his legs to straighten, after which Oscar will face a long recovery learning to stand and walk again from scratch.

Until Oscar can successfully walk, Emma, a hairdresser, has had to put on hold surgery she needs herself following breast cancer treatment. She won’t be able to pick up anything heavy, including her son, for several months after reconstructive surgery so must wait for her own operation until Oscar needs less physical support. 

Money for Oscar’s operation and rehab can be donated at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/shaun-cridge-5