Anglers have reeled in thousands of pounds to help a Wearside youngster who has overcome a serious condition to learn to walk.
Little Derek Russell was born with cerebral palsy and his family were told by medics that it was unlikely he’d be able to walk unaided.
Getting him to where he is now has been a mountain to climb for the family and we wanted to put something back.Paul Hutchinson
But the four-year-old triplet’s parents refused to let the diagnosis stand in their way and immediately began a campaign to raise more than £30,000 to cover the cost of a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which involved surgery on the lower spine.
The Barmston Primary School pupil, whose twin brother and sister are Daniel and Terri, underwent the successful op in October 2014 at St Louis Children’s Hospital, in Missouri, and since then has continued to make steady progress.
But his family still need to cover costs for his ongoing physiotherapy.
Now, members of Sunderland’s angling community, which Derek’s dad Derek senior is part of, have handed over more than £3,000 to the grateful family.
As the latest cheque was handed over at Rutherford’s Angling in Roker, Paul Hutchinson, 42, a friend of Derek Senior, explained: “The Northern Federation of Sea Angling Societies, which was a sort of umbrella organisation for angling clubs in the area, folded at the beginning of the year, but it had money left in the bank.
“So instead of that going to the angling trust, we decided it would be best to give it to Derek.
“He’s getting £3,500 and the RNLI will get £3,000.
“I’ve known Derek’s dad since I was a lad but all of the anglers have done what they can over the past few years to help his son.
“Getting him to where he is now has been a mountain to climb for the family and we wanted to put something back.
“This is the right thing to do.”
Derek’s loving mum Michelle, 36, says she is “flabbergasted” at the generosity.
“It’s amazing what they have done,” said Michelle, of Horsley Road.
“Derek will still need his physio sessions as he grows to make sure that his operation is as effective as possible.
“Sometimes he doesn’t do as well and his balance is off.
“But he’s so much better than he was a few years ago. He’s even started swimming lessons.”
Derek Senior, 41, said: “The lads have put raffles on, done competitions and Andy Rutherford has sold little buckets from his shop with all of the money going to Derek.
“Paul Hutchinson is a lifelong friend, we grew up in the same area and I really can’t thank him and the rest of them enough.”
For more on Derek’s appeal, search for Little Derek’s Fishing for Funds Charity Page on Facebook.