Belfast Telegraph

Watch the moment brave little Oliver Dickey (6) defies odds to take first ever steps unaided

By Chris Kilpatrick

He's just enjoyed his first walk at the age of six, defying both the odds and the experts in the process.

Inspirational Oliver Dickey took the first unaided steps of his young life this week - after his parents were told their son was unlikely to ever walk.

It is the latest chapter in the Coleraine boy's remarkable story which has captured the hearts of people across Northern Ireland.

A huge fundraising drive led to £110,000 being donated to pay for Oliver to receive pioneering surgery in America and aftercare treatment.

The plucky youngster had previously been confined to a wheelchair but his astonishing progress has seen him move to a special frame and sticks.

Oliver's mum, Charlene, uploaded a short video clip of her son walking at a specialist centre in Scotland. She told the Belfast Telegraph she was confident Oliver can continue to overcome the odds and eventually be completely free from any walking aids.

"Yesterday he started with six or seven steps and ended up with 30," she said.

"It's really coming together now. My husband was recording him, it was unbelievable.

"When you consider that the NHS said Oliver wasn't suitable for that treatment, he was denied it on the NHS. If we hadn't done this he would still be in his wheelchair.

"Last Saturday he walked holding my hand for the first time and then yesterday he did 30 steps on his own."

Oliver was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy at just 18 months. His parents said he was deemed unsuitable for the cutting-edge treatment on the NHS.

A fundraising campaign was then launched, Help Wee Oliver Walk, with tens of thousands of pounds pledged.

He underwent a technique known as selective dorsal rhizotomy at the St Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri which has been life-changing for the Millburn Primary School pupil.

Charlene said the family continues to be overwhelmed by the support they have received.

"Everybody is on his side, praying he will get there - and he's doing it," she said. "Just before Oliver's surgery, the doctor said one day Oliver would walk independently in all environments.

"We didn't want to get our hopes up.

"He said that Oliver would begin to take independent steps in 12 months, he took 30 in eight so that's fantastic.

"We have been realistic about what the surgery could achieve in terms of giving Oliver more independence.

"But this has given us real hope he will one day walk and play with his brother and school friends just like any other wee boy," Charlene added.


Oliver Dickey (6) from Coleraine was diagnosed with the spastic diplegia form of cerebral palsy at the age of 18 months. He is the first Northern Ireland child to undergo a procedure called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) at the St Louis Children's Hospital in the US to enable him to walk. Two other children from Northern Ireland have undergone a similar procedure.

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