Joel, 8, is ready to take his first steps

Motherly Love: Eight-year-old Joel Rogers of Darley Dale, who has cerebral palsy, is being supported by his mum Jodie as he prepares for a life-changing operation to help him to walk unaided.
Motherly Love: Eight-year-old Joel Rogers of Darley Dale, who has cerebral palsy, is being supported by his mum Jodie as he prepares for a life-changing operation to help him to walk unaided.

An eight-year-old boy is set to undergo a ground-breaking operation which could help him walk for the very first time.

Joel Rogers of Darley Dale, who has cerebral palsy, is set to become one of the first children in the UK to have the pioneering procedure to help him walk independently.

The surgery could see Joel’s dreams of playing hide-and-seek and running around with his younger brother come true – but his family need to raise thousands of pounds to pay for physiotherapy after the operation.

The Darley Churchtown pupil, who lives in Oaker Drive with his mum Jodie, 30 and brother Niall, seven, said: “I want to be able to walk like my brother can and do all the stuff I want to do.

“I want to be able to stand up and get down and ‘make angels’ without anyone helping me.”

Joel, who struggles to walk and uses a frame, is set to undergo the radical spinal operation called selective dorsal rhizotomy, which will be performed by specialists in Bristol next month.

Mum Jodie said: “Joel wrote a letter about what this will mean to him and said he’s like to be able to play hide and seek as he can’t hide properly in his frame.”

“I think he is very nervous and very emotional as he knows it is going to be hard work but he’s also really excited.”

She added: “In the last three years about 100 children from the UK have gone to America to have the operation but since May Bristol hospital has been offering it.

“Joel will be the first child in Derbyshire and one of the first in the country to be given the funding for it on the NHS.

“He’s a very strong little lad. He doesn’t like it but is very accepting of what the situation is.”

The treatment involves cutting sensory nerve fibres that link muscles to the spinal cord.

The complex procedure reduces muscle tension and makes it easier for patients to move their legs with the help of physiotherapy.

The family hope to raise £3,000 to put towards the cost of post operative treatment.

Joel will be off school for around two months following the operation and will need around a year of physiotherapy.

Mandy Whittacker, teaching assistant at Darley Churchtown School, said: “Joel does very well at school and tries hard at everything. I’ve known him since reception and he’s never grumbled.

“He’s a bit disappointed that he’s going to be off school at Christmas as he’ll miss the Christmas play which is his favourite. He loves drama and singing.”

To help raise money towards physiotherapy go to www.justgiving.com/helpjoeltowalk

Wristbands to support the charity, for a minimum donation of £1.50, are also available from the Mercury office on Firs Parade.