Northampton family celebrates hitting £50,000 target for life-changing operation

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TWO Northampton Saints stars have launched a fund-raising campaign to help pay for intensive physiotherapy sessions that will enable a five-year-old girl to walk for the first time.

Phil Dowson and Chris Ashton are asking the fans at today’s match against Bath at Franklin’s Gardens to give generously to a bucket collection to help Grace Windram, of Kingsthorpe, who has cerebral palsy.

After a tireless fund-raising effort by her family, a total of £50,000 has been raised to send Grace over to America next month to have surgery which will give her the opportunity to walk for the first time.

But, to enable the operation to be a success, Grace will have to endure long sessions of intensive physiotherapy costing more than £10,000 a year.

In today’s programme, Phil Dowson has paid tribute to the “astonishing” fund-raising carried out by the Windram family and says he was humbled by the “endless spirit and energy” shown by Grace.

Mr Dowson states: “They have already got so far with Grace, through sheer hard work and a painstaking daily routine and Grace is a brilliant girl who has to deal with so much that it makes any aches and pains suffered in the past seem inconsequential.

“Her mum says she deals with all that life has thrown at her with spirit and endless energy. (Two characteristics that she must have inherited from her parents.)

“I was hoping that a club that is so entrenched in the local culture, and so generous in the support of its team would do the same for this little girl, especially over Christmas.”

Grace’s mum Helen said the support the family had received had been “incredible” and the family were very grateful.

She said: “It really warms your heart to see that so many people care. Grace seems to have touched a lot of people’s hearts and we are very grateful to everyone. We could not have got to America on our own.

“But we need people to understand that this is not the end of the journey as next year is going to be a really hard slog for Grace as she will have to learn how to walk.

“She has never used the muscles in her legs to walk before so she is going to have to work very hard and will be having some intensive physiotherapy.”

To donate go to www.gracesfund.org