First steps for Toby – in town centre Primark!

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A SIX-year-old boy who had pioneering surgery to hel him walk unaided took his first steps three months earlier than predicted while out shopping with his parents.

Little Toby Hawkridge from Hemel Hempstead gave no warning to his parents when he let go of his mother’s hand and started walking around Primark in the town centre on Sunday.

Mum Kelly Urch said: “He just did it all of a sudden. He went off to point out things he wanted.

“His dad and I gasped: ‘Oh my God he’s walking!’ It was amazing. We started clapping and cheering. We had tears in our eyes.”

The youngster, who has cerebral palsy, previously could only walk with a frame so people in the community helped raise more than £60,000 for Toby’s Dream fund to pay for his treatment in America.

Doctors said it would take about three months before he could walk unaided but the family had been back for less than a week when their dream came true and they saw their little boy walk without help for the first time in his life.

Kelly said: “I just wish everyone who helped with the fundraising could have been there to see him, there wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the room.”

Toby had two operations at the St Louis Children’s Hospital and is currently having intense physiotherapy to strengthen his legs.

Sunday’s display shows that his hard work is paying off.

His mum said that he still has a way to go because his legs are not strong enough for him to walk far or stop and stand still.

She said: “He’s so determined now. He loved being back at school this week when they put up banners welcoming him. He threw hula hoops around with his friends, which is another thing he couldn’t do before.”