Making a difference for little Toby

Tobias 'Toby' O'Neill
Tobias 'Toby' O'Neill
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Big-hearted Blackpool residents are rallying round to help improve life for a much-loved little boy.

Toby O’Neill, 16 months, was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy last summer. An MRI scan showed Toby – who is a twin – had suffered a stroke to the right side of his brain, causing quite a lot of damage, and resulting in disability to the left side of his body.

His mum Brea, who was born in Blackpool and lived here until 2010, is appealing for help to provide him with treatment which she says would make a real difference to his life.

Her family still live on the Fylde coast and she and Toby make regular visit to the area.

And local people have been organising fundraising events, to help contribute towards the cost of a therapy known as CIMT (constraint-induced movement therapy), which is not available on the NHS but could change Toby’s quality of life drastically.

A band night and raffle took place at the Belle Vue pub on Whitegate Drive on Friday and an auction night is taking place on March 11, at 6pm, at The Talbot, on Milbourne Street, Blackpool.

Among the items up for grabs are a 32-inch television donated by LCD World, Blackpool, a signed Fleetwood FC pennant, an overnight stay at the Hilton Hotel including dinner, bed and breakfast and lots more.

Aaron Levi will be singing and Blackpool Auction House is volunteering its services for free to ensure the auction runs smoothly. There will also be a DJ and children’s entertainment, with free admission.

The event has been organised by Blackpool mum Nadeen Khalifeh.

She said: “I decided to help as I’ve known Brea for a long time and her eldest daughter Amy-Marie also has Cerebral Palsy. Brea put so much into ensuring Amy had the best treatment. She has defied doctors and is a well-rounded young lady with a job, a boyfriend and social life, and Brea has never asked for help.

“It’s incredibly unfortunate she is having to go through all this with Toby, so anything I can do to help I will.”

More than £3,000 has been raised through Go Fund Me so far, the therapy will cost around £9,000 for a four-week course.

Mum-of-five Brea, who now lives in Hampshire, said: “This is really hard for me as I never ask for anything.

“Toby barely uses his left arm and for Toby to be able to lead as full a life as possible, he needs to improve the use of his left arm. At the moment, it’s unlikely he will be able to do small everyday tasks we take for granted – such as use a knife and fork, do up buttons, or even put on his shoes and socks. This treatment would make such a huge difference

“So if anyone would like to help to raise the money, or feels as though they can help in any way, anything will be greatly appreciated. I’m speechless by how much people have done and donated so far, I cannot thank them enough.”

Visit www.gofundme.com/treatment-for-toby or www.facebook.com/events/1695350357429658