Members of the area’s police force will be putting their best feet forward to raise cash for a special school in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Officers, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and two friends will be taking part in this year’s Potters ‘Alf Marathon to raise money for Horton Lodge Community Special School in Rudyard, near Leek.
The 12-strong team will be raising donations supporting the Leek Waitrose supermarket’s community project for the school.
They will be joining hundreds of other people taking part in the 13.1 run on Sunday, June 8.
One of the running team, Sergeant Darren Wood, has a particular affiliation with the school following one of his twin sons’ diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy. Hearing of the wonderful help and support his son received from Horton Lodge encouraged colleagues to take part in this event and raise funds for the school.
Horton Lodge Community Special School is a state special school for boys and girls aged from 2 to 11 and takes boarders. It is a primary special school for pupils with physical disabilities and associated learning difficulties. They use conductive education to promote active learning for all of the pupils.
The school is a key learning centre and provides support for many pupils with physical disabilities who are also in mainstream schools. In addition, they support the transition of pupils from Horton Lodge into their mainstream school when appropriate.
Sergeant Wood, a member of Leek Moorlands Local Policing Team (LPT), said: “Myself and my wife are proud parents of twin boys Ben and Alex. From birth Ben, now aged nine, was repeatedly admitted to the Paediatric Intensive Care unit with acute respiratory problems and lung disease.
“During the early part of his life it was clear that his physical development was slow and was exhibiting a 'clubbed' hand and foot. In stark contrast to his brother Ben, even at the age of two-and-a-half years, was unable to stand or walk and often just toppled over when seated. Sadly, we were advised that he was just a late developer.
“Our lives changed with a visit from a local physiotherapist from Horton Lodge Community Special School, who recommended that we seek a referral. Ben was subsequently diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy.
“As a family we were in turmoil at his diagnosis but also re-assured that we now had a diagnosis. While we had many fears for the future following his diagnosis, Ben was an informal patient at the school.
“Ben received physiotherapy due to his disability to his right arm and leg, in addition to paediatric treatment supplied by the hospital.
“Over the next 12 months Ben slowly developed and with the superb help and treatment by staff at the school, learned to stand.
“Having been told that he may never walk, I will never forget Ben’s first steps hand in hand with his twin brother Alex guiding him, before they both fell to the floor in a heap.
“It was both a magical and an emotional moment that I will never forget.
“They were his first steps in dealing with a disability that he will have for life and will of course continue to have Orthotic care.
“There have been many challenges already and of course there will be many more in the future for him with his continuing treatment.
“However, the treatment and care provided at the school has allowed Ben to blossom in life and has allowed us to celebrate his achievements like learning to ride his bike this year.
“Ben now goes to mainstream school and even plays football with his mates wearing his orthotic boots and splints, having been accepted as part of the team and his school community.
“I am sure this would not have been possible without the help and support from the staff at Horton Lodge, and of course it will help his development into adult life.
“We are truly grateful for having this excellent facility locally. We would like people to donate as much as they can to give other kids like Ben the chance to shine and receive the best possible care and chance in life.”
Joining him for the run will be Chief Inspector Ade Roberts, Commander of Stoke-on-Trent North LPT; Sergeant Karl Breen, Burslem; PC Stevon Marsh, Leek Moorlands; PC Andy Percy, Burslem; PC Claire Brooker, Burslem; Sgt Mark Churton, Burlsem; PCSO Carl Radford, Burslem; PCSO Tracy Robinson, Bucknall; PCSO Charlotte Bryan, Burslem; Melissa Radford; and Julie Ebrey.
Nine-year-old Ben, who attends St Luke’s Primary School in Endon, said of his dad taking on the 13.1 mile challenge: “I am very proud of dad for doing this especially as he works so hard at his job and it’s good that he is finding the time to do this.
“I think it’s great that he is doing it to raise money for Horton lodge School as they have helped me a lot.”
Ben’s twin brother Alex added: “I am proud of dad for doing this. We will be there cheering him along on the day.”
Anyone who would like to donate can do so by emailing Darren.firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting https://www.justgiving.com/Melissa-Radford.