Cyclists’ fundraising will help transform life of four-year-old

Family, friends and the riders with Frankie Duke and his parents - Rachel and David (kneeling front row) at Gunwharf Quay    

Picture: Neil Marshall (170300-25)
Family, friends and the riders with Frankie Duke and his parents - Rachel and David (kneeling front row) at Gunwharf Quay Picture: Neil Marshall (170300-25)

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FOUR men raised thousands of pounds to help pay for life-changing surgery for a little boy.

Frankie Duke, four, needs selective dorsal rhizotomy to help him walk after a head injury when he was two led to brain damage.

Friends and family gather at Gunwharf Quays to welcome home the riders.

Picture: Neil Marshall (170300-22) PPP-170430-004537006

Friends and family gather at Gunwharf Quays to welcome home the riders. Picture: Neil Marshall (170300-22) PPP-170430-004537006

The youngster had to learn to talk, eat, sit and crawl again but high spasticity in his legs means he cannot walk.

It is hoped the operation will reduce the muscle stiffness so he can learn to walk.

To help pay for the surgery, which is £23,000, friends and family of Frankie have been fundraising.

Businessman Trevor Deacon, from Old Portsmouth, joined his son Ryan and friends Dan Colgate and Daniel Reilly in cycling from Manchester to Portsmouth.

They completed the 234-mile journey in three days. Trevor, 54, said: ‘Frankie’s parents Rachel and David are family friends of ours and we knew they were fundraising for the operation.

‘To help with fundraising we held a 12-hour table tennis marathon but we wanted to do something bigger so we thought of the cycle ride.

‘It was a lot harder than we thought it would be.

‘A few times we faced closed roads so we had to take longer routes but we got back the day we were hoping.’

In total the ride has raised around £6,600 towards Frankie’s operation.

His mum Rachel, from Fareham, said she was really grateful to the riders.

‘It is incredible how many people have been willing to help us,’ she said.

‘I want to say thanks to the guys who did the cycle ride. It must have been so hard.’

So far, the family have raised £20,000 for the operation in Bristol.

Frankie was injured when he fell off a child’s Thomas the Tank Engine table in 2014.

But intensive physiotherapy sessions are needed afterwards for the benefits of the surgery to continue.

Rachel added: ‘Initially we thought we would have to go abroad for the operation but Frankie has been accepted to have it in Bristol.

‘It is still a lot of money though so we are grateful to everyone who has donated.’

Two more fundraisers are taking place for Frankie. At the Seagull Pub, in Portchester, on May 27 a children’s party is taking place, while on May 29 a fun day is being held.

Donate at treeofhope.org.uk/frankieduke