Little Loui Crowther, four, will take one of the biggest steps of his young life when he starts school next week, one his parents believe would have been impossible without a specialist nursery.

Loui – of Berryfield Park, Melksham – was born with a range of health problems that have affected his development – but is now looking forward to joining big sister Emiligh, six, at Shaw Primary School.

Mother Kayleigh, 28, said: “If it had not been for the help from Devizes Opportunity Centre, I don’t think there is any way he would be going to mainstream school.

“The nursery is fantastic. They have supported not only Loui but all of us.”

Mrs Crowther wants to highlight the work of the centre, which helps children from the Melksham area, as it tries to raise £40,000 this year to cover running costs.

The nursery – which takes children from birth to the age of five, who have special needs – gets funding from Wiltshire Council but has to make up a shortfall, which can change from year to year.

Loui has a rare chromosome disorder, which stunts growth and impairs the immune system. He is now the height of an average two-year-old and his speech was delayed.

She said: “I knew there was something wrong with him when he was only about eight weeks old. It was such a relief when he was finally diagnosed and we could start getting help.”

Mrs Crowther said: “I have not been able to find any other families with children that have exactly the same condition; translocation of deleted and duplicate chromosomes.

“I am a very optimistic person and try to stay upbeat but, because of Loui’s condition, we get very little sleep and sometimes I have a down moment. Someone at the centre always notices and knows just the right thing to say to make me feel better.”

Hairdresser Mrs Crowther and husband Mark, a driver, are donating their holiday grant money to the centre. She said: “We both work, so I would rather give this money to the opportunity centre. I really hope other people will think of the centre if they have money to donate or are doing fundraising events.”