Archie Cleaver was left with his lifelong condition after suffering a ‘stillbirth’ and undergoing an emergency resuscitation to save his life ten years ago.
Archie and his mum Victoria moved to their Woofferton Road address four years, with the council adapting the property with a hoist and lift – but the uneven garden was almost completely inaccessible
It was a bitter disappointment for the ten-year-old as he is happiest outside, according to his mum – but now the family have been left overwhelmed by efforts to transform the garden by a group of volunteers.
Family support charity WellChild has turned the garden space from a source of frustration to a place of sheer joy for a delighted Archie and his mum.
Victoria said: ‘I loved the size of the garden but accessibly for Archie wasn’t great. You could bring him out here and park him – but he’s not a car.
‘I applied in 2019 and then the world stopped and I didn’t think it would ever happen. I didn’t think it would be successful.
‘The pandemic was awful. Archie had nothing to do for six months. It was just me and him the house.
‘He would have been in school five days a week. But we had to shield so we couldn’t go to the supermarket.’
For Archie’s garden, volunteers spent two days leveling off the ground, installing a large deck area and accessible ramps, and then beginning to lay new artificial turf.
Now the family says their fortunes have been turned around and they are already looking forward to showing off the new space with a garden party to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Victoria said: ‘I never thought it would this good. I will make all the difference with our quality of life.
‘If Archie could live outside he would. It calms him down when he’s stressed.
‘He loves being outside which is why we wanted to get the garden done.
‘Now it looks fantastic.’
WellChild staff member Kieran Cullen and a team of ten volunteers from businesses across the area shifted more than ten tonnes of earth to make the garden more accessible over the course of just 48 hours.
Harriet King, a senior finance administrator at Fareham property finance firm Propp, said: ‘It’s the first project I have been involved in.
‘It’s very rewarding. It’s hard work – when you have had an office job, you’re not really use to manual labour. But it’s good to throw some good back into the world.
‘I’d recommend it to anyone.’
Propp has raised more than £14,000 for WellChild, with each garden transformation project costing the organisation around £8,000.
The charity recently reopened applications for its garden makeover scheme – and has been inundated with cries for help, according to Kieran.
He said: ‘Need is absolutely massive at the moment. We have had 1,200 expressions of interest in our garden project. From that you can see the need is huge. We can only about to do about 40 of those projects a year.
With the need for more volunteers to transform families’ gardens, Kieran added: ‘If anyone has corporate social responsibility groups within their company and speak to them and get in contact with us through our website, we can see what we can do.’
WellChild is a national charity that offers support to ensure children facing serve illness and disability can spend as much time as possible in their family home.
The charity offers a range of support, including WellChild nurses that help at home and medical training for families, alongside its popular garden transformation scheme.
Victoria said she hopes her story will lead to other families to applying and gaining the support they need.
The 43-year-old said: ‘There is support out there, but you do need to know about it. It’s word-of-mouth. You meet parents and share information.
‘I’m so glad I heard about WellChild.’