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Six-year-old Elise Kelly is getting help to walk – thanks to the marathon efforts of a group of Staffordshire-based soldiers.

Elise, from Lightwood in Stoke on Trent, has a diagnosis of Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy and learning difficulties; she desperately needs a specialist walking frame so she can get around under her own steam instead of relying on other people to push her in her wheelchair.

Now Elise is getting help from local heroes based at Stafford’s Beacon Barracks, through their support for county-based national children’s disability charity Newlife Foundation.

Warrant Officer Bill Sykes and six of his men from 22 Signal Regiment will be tackling the gruelling 26.2-mile London Marathon on April 21, wearing full 40lb military packs. They have set their sights on raising £20,000 for Newlife Foundation and have already collected donations of £1,750 each from Cannock’s Motorhouse and A charity auction at the Crown and Anchor pub in Stone earlier this month (Thursday 7 March) raised £2,905 and several other local businesses have also contributed.

Elise’s mum Gemma said: “I can’t thank the men at Beacon Barracks enough. We were invited to attend the charity auction night and Bill and his guys were great. We had a go at lifting one of the 40lb packs and could barely manage it – the fact that they intend to run 26.2miles with them is amazing.”

Talking about the difference the walker will make to Elise, a pupil at Horton Lodge School near Leek, Gemma said: “It will give her independence in and around the home. Elise uses a similar walker at school and she is making good progress; she recently came home with a certificate saying she had managed to walk from the school hall to her classroom. Elise loves being independent and is really proud of her achievements.”

As Elise does not meet statutory services criteria to allow her use of a walker at home, her parents applied to Newlife Foundation for help with funding for the equipment, which costs £2,024. Newlife has provided 468 pieces of equipment for children in Staffordshire, at a cost of £712,290.

Gemma added: “Having a walker of her own will mean Elise can move around the house and even get out into the garden to play with her friends and even push her dollies in their pushchair. At the moment when she wants to use her legs we have to walk around with her and take her weight, which gets harder as she gets bigger.

“She can drag herself along the floor and roll about unaided, but the sort of independent mobility the walker offers is vital to her development. Having the walker will be a huge help – and it has a seat so if Elise gets tired she can have a little rest. And aside from the social benefits, the walker will also help improve her muscle strength and aid circulation and digestion.”

If you want to support the men from 22nd Signal Regiment, go to their Just Giving website: Or call Warrant Officer Bill Sykes on 07810 123 467.

Pictured: Elise Kelly from Stoke on Trent.

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