Mum Teresa Blake says she will always be grateful to Trowbridge’s Stepping Stones special needs nursery for the help it gave to her little boy Lewis, who has an undiagnosed disability.
Impressed by the care the charity provided not just to Lewis, but the whole family Ms Blake, 36, went on to volunteer at Stepping Stones before getting a job with the nursery.
Lewis, who is now four, was referred to Stepping Stones at the age of six months after it became clear his muscles were failing to develop, leaving him unable to walk unaided. He also has speech problems.
Stepping Stones, which helps children from birth to the age of five with disabilities and learning difficulties, needs £50,000 a year to survive, but last week it lost £10,000 of vital funding from Wiltshire Council, after central government withdrew its Aiming High For Disabled Children grants.
In response, the Wiltshire Times launched the Give Us A Chance appeal, to help make up some of the shortfall.
Ms Blake, who lives in Trowbridge, said: “When Lewis was referred it was a very daunting time, but Stepping Stones helped us come to terms with the fact I had a disabled child. They helped with medical forms and putting me in touch with other parents in similar situations.
“They helped Lewis learn through play, worked with him in their sensory room and he just loved the social side of being around other children. Stepping Stones was great and I wanted to do whatever I could to help them.”
Ms Blake, who is also mother to eight-year-old Izzy, volunteered to set up a website and Facebook page for the charity and was later employed as fundraising and communications co-ordinator.
She said: “My role is always looking for ways to raise £40,000 to keep us going and we’ve been lucky with the great support we get from the community with people holding events in aid of us. Going forward. If we managed to get every salon and pub in Trowbridge to take one of our donation tins, I think it would make a huge difference.”
Ms Blake has also started working with Stepping Stones’ children in their playroom in some cases using Makaton which she learnt to communicate with her son.
Work continues to try and identify the condition Lewis has and he receives treatment from Royal United Hospital, Bath.
In September, he started at Larkrise Primary School, which supports children with special needs, and Ms Blake credits it and Stepping Stones for improving the quality of Lewis’ life.
Ms Blake said: “Lewis has come on in leaps and bounds with his speech and he can now take about eight independent steps and that’s thanks to the help he’s received.
“Diagnosing his condition still remains like looking for a needle in a haystack unfortunately, but he’s had so much support throughout.”