ARCHIE Anderson looks set to realise his dream of one day being able to walk unaided, thanks to the selflessness of aluminium plant workers facing redundancy in a matter of weeks.
Staff at Rio Tinto Alcan in Lynemouth have put the welfare of the Ashington youngster before their own by donating £10,000 to an appeal to raise the £50,000 the five-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer needs to undergo a life-changing operation.
It has only taken Archie’s mum and dad Marie and Allan six months to raise enough cash to cover the cost of pioneering surgery in the US.
Marie, of Magnolia Drive, said: “It is really humbling that the people from Alcan have decided to give Archie a share of their money.
“It is an incredible gesture by workers who are going to lose their jobs. I couldn’t stop crying when they told me.
“The money means we can definitely go to America for Archie’s operation, and the other fundraising will help pay for the ongoing physiotherapy when we come back and any equipment he might need.
“We want to give him the best chance, and I am truly overwhelmed by the generosity shown by so many people – family, friends and complete strangers.
“To have raised the money in just over six months is beyond my expectations.
“Thanks to the workers at Alcan and everyone who has donated, Archie will hopefully soon be able to achieve his dream of walking, running and playing, just like his friends.
“We are over the moon. It makes it even more humbling that it is money from people who are actually losing their jobs, and it is really nice that they have thought to support Archie and help us.
“Reaching the total is absolutely life-changing for Archie and for us and. The operation will make every day easier for him.”
Workers at Rio Tinto Alcan have decided to split their social fund between three charities following the announcement of the plant’s closure rather than share it among themselves despite most of them facing redundancy at the end of May.
Archie’s appeal, the Great North Air Ambulance and the children’s heart unit fund at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital have each been given £10,000.
Marie added: “I can’t thank everyone enough. The majority of the money that has been raised has come from people from Ashington. It isn’t a big town, but the support we have had has been absolutely amazing.
“People we have never met that we don’t know have been giving us money towards the total. One person turned up on the doorstep on Christmas Eve with a cheque for £1,000. It’s just been incredible, especially at a time when no one has any money.”
Roland Sanderson, chairman of the Alcan Lynemouth Social Club, said he and his colleagues wanted something good to come from the closure.
“We are all absolutely devastated at losing our jobs, but we all wanted to make sure the money we had saved up went to great causes,” he said.
“We have been following the story of Archie and are delighted our donation means he can definitely go to America for his operation, while the air ambulance and children’s heart unit fund are two causes which make such a difference, helping to save lives.
“All the social club members live in the community and wanted to give something back. It is nice to do something positive at what is a difficult time for us all.”
Archie, a pupil at St Aidan’s First School in Ashington, currently has to wear leg splints and a Lycra body suit to keep his posture straight.
“He has trouble with simple things like going up and down steps or getting in and out of the car, and the surgery will give Archie the best chance to get on in life,” said Marie.
“The operation will make things a lot easier for him, and it will mean he will be able to run around with his friends and hop.
“He’ll be able to walk with his feet flat on the floor, which is something he’s never been able to do.”
Archie hopes to undergo the op, a selective dorsal rhizotomy, at St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri in July.
Northumbria Police Charities Fund last week donated an I Joy Ride hi-tech riding fitness machine for Archie to help improve his balance, posture and muscle strength.
Inspector Barrie Joisce, of Ashington police, said “It’s great that the fund could support Archie in this way.
“He is a bright, bubbly and very energetic little boy, and we were more than happy to help support him.
“Northumbria Police wish him and his family all the best for his operation in July.”
Marie added: “The I Joy Ride is fantastic piece of machinery, and we are so grateful to the police for giving it to Archie as it will really help build up his core muscles and strengthen his legs after the operation.
“It was such a nice gesture to provide us with it.”
Archie’s family have events planned for June which will still go ahead to raise any extra funds to help with the cost of physiotherapy after they return to England.
To follow Archie’s progress, donate or find out about future events, go to www.archiesdream.co.uk