Family’s Joy Over ‘Massive’ Donation

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The family of a two-year old Weston boy are a step closer to fulfilling their dream of seeing the toddler walk thanks to a £32,000 donation towards a life-changing operation.

Earlier this year the Mercury reported that Nicola Baird was trying to raise £65,000 for her son Jacob to have the operation in the United States.

Jacob has a typed of cerebral palsy which causes his legs to seize and spasm – but this procedure would allow him to walk normally for the rest of his life. The Axentis Michael Charitable Trust has this week offered to contribute £32,000 to pay for Jacob’s operation and the equipment he needs for physiotherapy afterwards.

The trust has also offered to put forward an extra £8,000 if there are any complications during the operation. As the family does not have the medical insurance, this money covers any extra procedures which may need to be done during the operation, such as orthopaedic surgery or extra surgery on his muscles.

The Trust has donated more than £1 million to people in need in the past 10 years thanks to a bi-annual charity ball held on the Grand Pier. The Trust’s Alex Demetriou first got into contact with Jacob after learning about his plight from the Mercury.

Mrs Baird said: “Alex just rang and said he wanted to come and meet with us, we set up a meeting and he came round last week. He sat in our lounge and we told him all about it. He sat and listened to the whole lot. He took it back to the rest of the charitable trust committee and the next day I had a phone call when I was putting the children to bed.  My husband came down the stairs and I screamed – he wondered what on earth was going on. It is a massive amount. We were so motivated but then it wasn’t until Alex made the generous offer I realised £65,000 is such a large amount. It is still a frightening amount but much more doable”.

After meeting Jacob, Mr Demetriou agreed with the Trust committee to help the family. Mr Demetriou said: “Nobody likes to see a child struggle. Whether you have a child or not you think every child deserves the same chance and Jacob hasn’t had that chance. Ill health is the worst thing a parent can suffer with their children”.

The Axentis Michael Charitable Trust was set up in memory of businessman Axentis Michael, father of Grand Pier owner Kerry Michael and grandfather of Mr Demetriou, who died in 2003. Mr Demetriou said: “He always taught us that if we were able, we should always help others. With him gone, we felt a responsibility to continue his good work. Kerry, myself and the team spend a lot of time and effort putting this on but it is all the local businesses that attend which make it possible for us to donate this amount. I’d like to thank everybody who attends the ball, donates and contributes, even down to our staff who their time for free to set up and work the event. They are the people who make this possible”.

The November 2014 ball raised more than £150,000 in one evening. The Baird family are holding a charity ball at the Batch Hotel in Lympsham on July 2 with auction and casino to help raise the rest of the money needed to get to America. Tickets, priced at £400 for tables of 10, are available from Mrs Baird on 01934 413139 or by emailing info@jacobsjourney.org.uk

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