Francis is one step closer to his dream thanks to readers

HELPING HAND Francis Clark with his mother Emma Callard. Picture: Paul Jacobs (122093-4)
HELPING HAND Francis Clark with his mother Emma Callard. Picture: Paul Jacobs (122093-4)
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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LITTLE Francis Clark is a step closer to his dream – thanks to kind-hearted readers of The News.

Last week we reported how the toddler’s mum Emma Callard wanted to give him the gift of walking before his second birthday this month.

She was unable to afford the £500 needed for a special Lycra suit to help put his hip muscles back into place, which she hopes will help him to take his first steps.

Donations have since flooded in and Francis’ family, of Sandringham Road, Fratton, now have enough to buy two of the suits.

She said: ‘We have had an overwhelming response.

‘People have sent us cheques and someone put cash through our door in an envelope.

‘We tried to catch them but they wanted to remain anonymous.

‘Some people say there’s no sense of community any more but there clearly is.’

Emma gave birth to Francis prematurely when she was 26 weeks pregnant.

He was born weighing just 1.54lbs following an emergency caesarean section but his twin brother, Ryalie, died.

Francis endured a long recovery in intensive care but it left his hips not strong enough to allow him to walk.

The NHS is only able to pay for the special suits if the system is proven to help his development after the first three months of wearing one.

Now Emma and Francis’s dad Shaun Clark have placed their first order for a suit.

She added: ‘We never felt we would be at this stage. It is so fantastic for us.

‘Not just the cheques, but the words of support from people really mean something.

‘We have had lovely cards and letters of support.

‘We will be putting them into a photo book for the future to show Francis when he is older.

‘There were letters from those who have been through the same thing – it has been really special for them to share that with us.

‘It’s given me more hope. I hope the suit will be able to help.’