Vernon Kay backs The Sun's Christmas campaign and meets Caleb, 16, who has had to learn to walk again

THERE is only one gift on Caleb Higgs-Collier’s wish list this Christmas – to be able to walk unaided again.

The 16-year-old was injured after half a tonne of decking fell on him during a family building project, leaving him with eight screws and two rods in his back.



For the past few months he has been undergoing physiotherapy to walk again.

To see how he’s getting on, The Sun sent TV personality Vernon Kay and horse therapy Shetland pony Jonnie as part of our Joy To The Ward appeal.

We are raising money for NHS Charities Together, which supports nearly 240 NHS charities across the UK, providing specialist services and equipment, as well as investing in community projects that improve local healthcare.

Speaking at Stoke Mandeville hospital, Bucks, where Caleb is getting treatment, Vernon, 47, said: “It’s incredible to realise that everything around this room we’re in in the Horatio’s Garden has all pretty much been funded by people’s charitable donations.

“It’s really impressive that we as a nation come together to support the NHS and it’s people like Caleb that it makes a difference for.”

Caleb, from Newport, Gwent, spent four months on an acute ward at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, before moving to the National Spinal Injuries Centre at Stoke Mandeville a month ago.

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He has been having hydrotherapy, along-side other physio. During Vernon’s visit he learned how equine therapy could help him regain confidence.

Caleb said: “Hydrotherapy in the pool means I can do lots of stretches without gravity, which helps me get movement back.

"I also have Functional Electrical Stimul-ation which puts current through my muscles to help them get moving again.

“The treatment means I should hopefully be able to walk again.”

Caleb was terrified he may have lost his mobility but thanks to the amazing work by the hospital, specialist equipment and his own perseverance, he can now walk short distances with the help of a frame.

It’s amazing to see the NHS are doing everything to get him up and running again. The facilities are really impressive. It’s everything Caleb and for everyone else here requires

His mum, Nat Collier, 45, a civil servant, is also staying at the hospital, in accomm-odation funded by donations, while he has treatment.

The hospital’s charity, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust Charitable Fund — supported by NHS Charities Together — also arranges family days and provides support for Nat.

Vernon said: “It’s amazing to see the NHS are doing everything to get him up and running again. The facilities are really impressive. It’s everything Caleb and for everyone else here requires.

"But the NHS is in many ways on its knees and needs NHS charity support to go further for us all.”

Caleb added: “Charity donations are essential.”

One of the main things funded is Horatio’s Garden, which gives spinal injury patients a break from the clinical environment. They can be wheeled out in their beds to enjoy the wildlife there.

It was also the perfect place for Caleb to enjoy equine therapy with Jonnie.

HOW TO GIVE

The Sun’s Joy To The Ward appeal is raising money for NHS Charities Together, the national, independent charity supporting more than 230 NHS charities across the UK.

Your donations will help support children and families going through the toughest times imaginable, providing specialist equipment and services along with toys, play- workers, parents’ accommodation and much more.

DONATE ONLINE: Scan the QR code above with your phone camera to go straight through to our donation page or visitnhscharitiestogether.givesafely.org/joy.

DONATE BY TEXT: Text JOY to 70607 to donate £10 to NHS Charities Together. You’ll be charged £10, plus one message at your standard network rate. NHS Charities Together will receive 100% of your donation.

DONATE BY POST: Use the coupon on the left.

  • NHS Charities Together is the trading name of the Association of NHS Charities. Registered Charity No 1186569 (England & Wales) and SC050716 (Scotland). Company No 12325259

The 16-year-old pony, from the HorseHeard learning programme, provides a sense of calm and relaxation for patients. HorseHeard operates all across the country and its visits to Stoke Mandeville are outside, surrounded by nature.

The therapy is proven to help young people express their emotions and increase their confidence. Vicky Bennett, of HorseHeard, said: “The horses are really sensitive, they reflect back how the person is feeling.”

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive at NHS Charities Together, said: “The HorseHeard project is one of the latest we have funded through our community partnerships grants.

"We believe this will help to reduce inequalities with access to mental health support.”

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