A Keighley gran will be using the power of chocolate to help raise funds to send her disabled nine-year-old granddaughter to the Czech Republic for pioneering surgery.
Charlotte Wormald has severe cerebral palsy, following health problems when she was just days old – she and twin sister were born 14 weeks early, each weighing less than a bag of sugar.
Their grandmother June Wormald from Steeton will be holding a chocolate tombola at Keighley’s Airedale Centre on December 17 to raise funds for Charlotte’s next batch of treatment.
Since she was eight months old Charlotte has undergone Vojta intense reflex therapy in the Czech Republic, which has improved both her mobility and her speech.
She’s now been accepted by a Russian surgeon to undergo pioneering operations at another Czech clinic. Developed by Professor Valeriy Ulzibat, the phased fibrotomia treatment (PFT) involves using a scalpel to stretch muscles and so relieve the spasms that are part of cerebral palsy.
Charlotte and Emily’s parents Mark and Radka need to raise £2,500 to pay for the operations plus a stay in Slovakia for follow-up treatment.
June said: “I am constantly fund-raising so Charlotte can have her treatments. I am very grateful that the Airedale Centre have agreed I can have a stand on December 17 for a chocolate tombola.
“All the prizes will be chocolates and I hope people will donate money to the appeal to help Charlotte undergo more treatment.
“Charlotte is not long back from Czech Republic where she had intense physiotherapy to help her muscles. She stayed a bit longer than usual so she and her mum could meet a Russian surgeon about the Ulzibat method.
“She’s now been accepted for treatment by him next April and we hope that it will help her. We are a little apprehensive but some of the children at the clinic she has attended have also had it, and we can see the improvement in them.”
Airedale Shopping Centre manager Steve Seymour will be among those looking to pick up some sweet prizes at June’s tombola.
He said: “When June approached us about her fund-raising we were very happy to help. We believe that the Airedale Centre is at the heart of Keighley’s community, and we know that many people have supported Charlotte and her family in their fund-raising for the treatment.
“I am sure that our shoppers will once again be very generous – plus there’s the chance they can take home some chocolate.”
Emily now attends Menston Primary School while Charlotte is a pupil at Chellow Heights special needs school. They speak both Czech and English as their mum Radka Blahova is originally from the Czech Republic. She met partner Mark when they worked together and the family originally lived in Riddlesden, Keighley, before moving to a larger house near Ilkley, which has been adapted for Charlotte.
Radka went into labour with the twins when she was only 26 weeks pregnant, and the girls were born at Keighley’s Airedale Hospital, each weighing less than a kilo.
They both suffered health problems including jaundice, infections and anaemia, and spent their first three months on hospital. At one point Charlotte had an infection, which led to severe breathing difficulties and she had to be resuscitated and ventilated.
A second brain scan showed cystic periventricular leucomalacia and Charlotte was later diagnosed with spastic quadriplegia, the most severe form of cerebral palsy.
Radka now helps Charlotte do exercises daily, with repeated movements to improve mobility. Initially they used a therapy regime developed by child neurologist Dr Vaclav Vojta in the Czech Republic for children with impaired movement. From the age of five Charlotte has visited the Czech Sanatoria Klimkovice twice a year for three to four weeks of intensive therapy stays, with follow-up exercises at home.
This year the family has also started a three-year programme using the Scotson technique, developed by a Sussex woman whose son was born severely disabled.
Radka said: “We go to the Advance Centre for Scotson Technique in East Grinstead three times a year and at home I do non-stop positioning, strengthening exercises and massages for Charlotte, as well as stretches, acupressure, neuromobilisations and floor exercises.
“The list is endless and it’s a constant fight against the cerebral palsy.
“We are hoping Ulzibat will help the muscles to relax, so I would be able to do more of a strengthening routine with her.
“After the Ulzibat treatment, Charlotte will have five weeks rest and then we will go to Slovakia to the Renona Rehabilitation Centre for two weeks of intensive therapy.
“We are very grateful and indebted to each and every one of the wonderful people who freely give their help and support to enable Charlotte to continue her treatment.
More details on how to donate to the appeal at charlottewormald.com