Oliver Dickey walking on air with birthday trip to Legoland
Little Oliver Dickey, who took his first steps in February after a pioneering operation in the US, has had his birthday wish granted by a children's charity.
The youngster celebrated turning seven yesterday at Legoland in Windsor thanks to the Starlight Foundation, which helps make dreams come true for ill children.
Oliver's mum, Charlene (29), told the Belfast Telegraph the real miracle was that the family were able to go without a wheelchair.
She said: "I can't believe the difference in my wee boy. He has gone from strength to strength since February, and we're all over the moon with his progress.
"Coming on a trip like this without his wheelchair was something we couldn't have imagined this time last year. It's a really special birthday for him."
Oliver, who lives in Coleraine with his mum, dad Neil (32) and brother Max (4), was diagnosed with spastic diplegia - a form of cerebral palsy - when he was 18 months old. Ineligible for cutting-edge treatment on the NHS, he had to use a wheelchair.
In January 2014, the family launched a fundraising page in a bid to gather enough money to take Oliver to America for surgery that could help him walk.
The campaign, Help Wee Oliver Walk, raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Millburn Primary School pupil, who underwent a technique known as selective dorsal rhizotomy at St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri. In February, he defied all the odds and took his first unaided steps.
Charlene said: "Now Oliver can walk around the house on his own. Sometimes, he can stand up and other times he uses the walls to help him round. It's just like having a wee baby in the house. He still falls over every now and again, but he just gets back up.
"If we are going out, he uses his frame or sticks, but he has all the strength to walk alone. He just needs to build his confidence."
Oliver's story captured the hearts of people across Northern Ireland and earned him the Sunday Life's Spirit of NI Award in June, after which the Starlight Foundation organised the trip.
Charlene said: "He was asked what he would like to do, and straight away he said Legoland. He had been learning about under the sea in school and was set on coming here because there is a special ocean-themed ride.
"He has been using his frame since we got here on Friday but hasn't needed a wheelchair. Neil and I are so proud of him. He is much happier now he can get himself around -he's like a different wee boy. In school, he gets out in the playground and puts his hand up in class more than before."
Oliver's family are still gathering funds to help maintain his care. They have now raised more than £90,000 - £30,000 more than their original target.
You can donate to Oliver's campaign and follow his progress at www.justgiving.com/helpweeoliverwalk/