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Wedding dance dreams come true for mum of disabled boy

Alex and his mum Jo shared their first dance at Jo's wedding. Photo: ITV West Country

A video of a mother and son from Somerset sharing the first dance at her wedding has been viewed almost 800,000 times online.

13-year-old Alex Dieterle from Ilminster has severe cerebral palsy. When his mother Jo Atrill married his stepfather Martin last month, Martin had a special surprise. He'd secretly spent weeks hand-making a special harness to allow Jo to dance with her son for the very first time.

See the dance in full:

Martin had chosen the Coldplay song 'Yellow', as Jo used to sing this to Alex when he was a baby. Apparently there wasn't a dry eye in the house. Even the venue staff were in tears as they watched Jo and Alex share the dance.

Jo says it was a dream come true to be able to dance with her son. There have been times when she thought he wouldn't be here for her wedding day.

Martin Atrill spent weeks sewing the harness, which would allow Alex to dance. The 13-year-old can't bear his own weight at all, which made the situation more complex.

I did a bit of research online and found someone doing something similar but it wasn't going to work for Alex, so I decided to make one myself out of various bits of equipment.

It was hours and hours and hours of hiding upstairs in the spare bedroom with a needle and thread.

– Martin Atrill

But, Martin says, all the hard work was worth it and gave the family a memory they will treasure forever.

"To see Jo's reaction - I struggled to stay upright when she started to cry! At one point I looked around the room and everyone was crying. Jo and Alex have such an incredible bond and it was just nice to do something that Jo never thought she would be able to do with him.

"What you don't see in the video is that once I've taken Alex out of the harness, I grabbed two of my best men and we collapsed on a heap on the floor in tears."

Martin and Jo want to take Alex to Disneyland. Credit: Jamie Mathias

Their wedding singer Jamie Mathias shared a video of the dance online and it has since been viewed more than 800,000 times. People have sent messages from around the world.

I wanted people to see that if you have a special needs child or a life-limited child, there's a lot of love around.

People might think it would be very sad but there's lot of love, a lot of joy and a lot of madness, especially in our house.

People seem to have got that and the comments people are leaving are just beautiful.

– Jo Atrill

But the reality of Alex's situation is never far away. While Jo and Martin went on honeymoon, Alex was given specialist respite care at the Little Harbour hospice in St Austell.

He caught a virus and had to be resuscitated. Although he made a good recovery, the family say it is a reminder that every moment is precious.

Alex became very sick will the couple were on their honeymoon. Credit: ITV West Country

Alex's carer, who was also a bridesmaid at the wedding, is trying to raise enough money to send the family to EuroDisney.

Alex needs nursing care 24/7 and taking a nurse with them will cost more than £12,000.

Georgia Longman is Alex's carer and was a bridesmaid at the wedding. Credit: ITV West Country

Jo has done many fundraising events but has never done anything for herself so I thought it was time we did something to help them make memories.

– Georgia Longman, Alex's carer
Alex has complex health and medical needs. Credit: Family Photo/GoFundMe

A fundraising page for Alex reads:

"In 2016 we managed to raise over £3,000 for Alex through this site and many charity events. With people's kind donations, we managed to buy Alex a three-wheeler buggy. This will enable Alex to do many more activities which he's limited in his electric wheelchair, including going on the beach, through mud and snow! The buggy alone was £2,500!

"This year so far we've raised another £3,000 to go towards Alex's trip to Disneyland Paris with his wonderful mum, step dad, little step sister and little step brother! Which is amazing but with Alex's complex needs and to make the trip the best it can be for Alex we still have a long way to go!"