A BRAVE Sunderland boy battling a degenerative muscle-wasting condition has been given the best Christmas gift of all by kind-hearted pupils.
Earlier this year, Matthew Brettell, nine, and his family launched a campaign to raise £45,000 to help convert their home into a safe haven as his condition deteriorates.
Schoolgirls from St Anthony’s have boosted the pot by £1,400 after Year 7 pupils took it upon themselves to help Matthew’s Milestones.
It will go towards the £45,000 needed to top up a £30,000 government grant to pay for building work to create home adaptations including a through-floor lift, a ceiling hoist and widening rooms.
Thorney Close Primary School pupil Matthew has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which will gradually weaken his muscles so much that he will need to use a wheelchair by the time he’s 12.
Mum Maria, 35, who is married to Gavin, 40, says she cannot thank the schoolgirls enough.
“Since we launched Matthew’s Milestones in July we’ve managed to raise nearly £8,000 and the amount from the girls will really help,” said the mum-of-three. “It’s so touching that people want to help. Matthew will be off his feet by about 12, so we want the work to be complete by then. And it will take around a year to complete the building work.”
Maria, who is also mum to Daniel, seven, and Naomi, 17, added: “In the New Year we’re planning on applying for other grants and are asking if anyone can donate things like bricks and timber, which will all help with the building work.
“Matthew’s doing well at the minute. He struggles with things like stairs though and as he gets older that will get worse and worse.”
It’s been a busy year for Matthew who captured the public’s hearts when he featured on ITV programme, Kids With Cameras: Diary of a Children’s Ward, where he was given a camera to film himself talking about his experiences.
Matthew says being on This Morning because of the show was one of the highlights of his year.
He said: “I got to meet Eamonn and Ruth (the This Morning hosts) and they let me read a piece into the camera and I said ‘run VT’.” He added: “I think it’s really nice what the girls at the school have done for me.”
Head of Year 7 at St Anthony’s Girls’ Academy, Jo Britton, said: “Matthew’s cousin Hannah Brettell goes to the school and the girls had also read about Matthew in the Echo. They brought the articles in to school and asked if there was something they could do to help.
“They were very enthusiastic and have done the school proud. They came up with all sorts of ideas to help Matthew including a sponsored swim, cake stalls and sponsored silence. The staff also made cakes to sell, everyone got involved.
“It’s great to know that the money will be helping someone so close to home.”
•To donate to the Matthew’s Milestones appeal, visit www.justgiving.com/Maria-Brettell.