Six-year-old girl achieves dream of walking her little sister to school after pioneering operation

  • Report by Ken Goodwin

A six-year-old girl who faced life in a wheelchair has achieved her dream of walking her little sister into school on her first day. Amelia-Rose Walton underwent pioneering surgery after an appeal raised £100,000.

Amelia-Rose, who is from Bishop's Cleeve near Cheltenham, has hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP). It is a disease that causes weakness and stiffness in the leg muscles and it means she was in a lot of pain.

Symptoms gradually get worse over time and sufferers are likely to be consigned to a wheelchair. But not Amelia-Rose - her parents managed to raise enough money for life-changing surgery in the United States.

The family were helped by Gloucester Adventureman Jamie McDonald and his Superhero Foundation, who describes Amelia-Rose as a 'Superhero in the making' for her bravery in the face of daily pain.

Mum and dad - Tanya and Ben Walton - spent more than three years fundraising. Ben took on a number of challenges, including a huge 300km trek in just three days.

Amelia Rose - seen here with mum Tanya and sister Chloe on the right - is going from strength to strength since her operation. Credit: ITV West Country

Amelia-Rose underwent surgery in August 2019 in St Louis, Missouri, and is now having regular physiotherapy sessions and swimming to help her walking.

Ben Walton says "It is all a case for her now, just trying to retrain those muscles. The ones she has never used before - get stronger. And as the scientists say, or the doctors say - rebuild those neural pathways."

It is an ongoing process but Amelia-Rose was strong enough to take Chloe to school on Monday 14 September.

Amelia Rose is incredibly happy to have made her dream come true. Credit: ITV West Country

For a little girl who doctors thought would never walk, it is an amazing achievement. Her family are very proud.

"Speechless, I was absolutely speechless. The whole year has been difficult with Covid, and everything else we have had to go through, but just to see that moment. There were lots of tears."

Amelia-Rose admits she was a little scared.

I've never done it before. I was a little bit scared. But when I'd done it, I felt happy about myself.