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Top Scoring Frame Footballer, Toby from Hemel Hempstead, surprised with R82 Crocodile Walker donation

Toby Hawkridge, 11, who has Cerebral Palsy became the excited recipient of an R82 Crocodile Walking Frame, gifted to him recently by R82 whilst playing Frame Football at Basildon Soccability.

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R82 UK, specialist suppliers of adaptive solutions for disabled children and young adults, are supporting UK Frame Football clubs by donating eight Crocodile Walkers to young players. Set up by amateur football coach, Richard Seedhouse, Frame Football is a new activity with teams forming across the UK. Many players use crutches on a daily basis but utilise a wheeled walking frame when they play. R82 UK hopes, by supporting the activity, it can raise the profile of this inclusive sport and encourage more children to get involved.

Toby, a passionate Tottenham Hotspur fan, began participating in Frame Football at Basildon Soccability nine months ago. Although he can walk unaided, he uses crutches to help him on a daily basis and is reliant on a frame to run, go backwards and for longer distances. Toby, from Hemel Hempstead, was born with Spastic Diplegia CP, which led to him walking on tiptoes in a scissoring pattern and requiring the use of a wheelchair. 

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In 2011, having raised an incredible £64,000 in six months through fund raising, Toby’s parents, Kelly and Terry, were able to take him to America, for a life changing operation. Kelly comments: “We were finding it very difficult to access appropriate treatment in the UK and made the decision to fundraise so that Toby could have what is seen as routine surgery in America. A similar operation in the UK would mean removing three pieces of Toby’s spine but at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri, they specialise in this operation and only remove one piece of spine. They also operated on his hamstrings to relieve tightness. Toby’s doctor, Dr Parks, was amazing and the rehabilitation process was a lot shorter in the US than it would have been in the UK”. 

Toby’s parents noticed positive changes almost immediately post-surgery. Kelly explains: “Very quickly, Toby stopped waking in pain at night. This was a huge deal for all of us, as prior to the operation my husband and I needed to help him stretch to reduce nightly pain. We are extremely grateful to everyone that helped and supported us. Before surgery, Toby could not walk up and down stairs, brush his teeth unaided or get in and out of a bath – but now he can. We still go to rehabilitation to help Toby through growth spurts but he can walk unaided and can take part in activities that he could not have coped with before. His personality has changed too. He is now very positive and eager to try new things. In fact, Toby has just come back from a PGL holiday where he took part in abseiling, canoeing and used the zipwire.”

Toby, who will be starting at Adey Field Secondary School, in September, loves the X-Box and spending time with his family. He also enjoys catching up with the UK children he met in America undergoing similar treatment to himself. The families meet twice a year and have been on holiday together. Kelly says this network of friends has been important for all of them. Having similar experiences in the past, they continue to share news about rehabilitation, treatment and equipment. In fact, many of the children have joined the same Frame Football Club as Toby so that they see each other on a weekly basis.

Toby was presented with his new Crocodile Walker by R82 Product Advisor, Bernie Cantona. She comments: “R82 UK is delighted to support the Frame Football Association, a non- profit group who work for the benefit of the player and their family. It was a pleasure to meet Toby and his family and handover the Crocodile to Toby. The walker comes in three sizes and we have provided Toby with the larger size, which hopefully will see him through to his teenage years. As the walker can be placed behind the body, it allows freedom of movement whilst providing maximum support and stability. It is ideal for Frame Football. We hope the publicity R82 raises will encourage other families to find out about their local Frame Football clubs.”

Toby summarises: “I was really surprised to receive my Crocodile Walker. I didn’t know anything about it! My Dad knew but kept it a complete surprise from my Mum and me. The old walker I had was wobbly and too small and I was getting frustrated using it as it was so old! Having the Crocodile will make a massive difference and my parents and I are very grateful to R82. I still get tired walking long distances but as the Crocodile has a seat I can now join in with things like dog walks and take a break when needed. Best of all, as top scorer at Frame Football, I can now go even faster – it’s like being given a brand new Ferrari!”

  

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