Liam fulfils his football dream after life-changing operation

Houghton youngster Liam Straughan who is living his dream of playing football.
Houghton youngster Liam Straughan who is living his dream of playing football.
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They said he would never walk. But just look at brave Liam Straughan now, as he lives his dream of playing a game of football.

And it’s down to a life-changing op - which happened thanks to Sunderland Echo readers - that the eight-year-old from Houghton is doing so well.

Liam Straughan, seven, pictured with his sister Jessica, three and his mum Rachel and dad Neil.

Liam Straughan, seven, pictured with his sister Jessica, three and his mum Rachel and dad Neil.

Liam, who suffers from cerebral palsy, needed an operation two years ago called a selective dorsal rhizotomy.

The five-hour operation involved surgeons cutting the nerves in his spine to free the tension in his legs. NHS funding for the operation was refused, so parents Neil and Rachel started trying to raise the £25,000 needed for the operation, and £5,000 for rehabilitation after it.

Thanks to an Echo campaign, readers helped to smash the target in less than a week, with one anonymous donor making a £20,000 donation.

Within a year, Liam could walk without the use of a frame, and rode a bike for the first time in his life.

He loves it and it’s such a great achievement since we were told he may never walk let alone learn to play football

Rachel Straughan, mum of Liam Straughan

Now, two years on, he has joined a football team.

Rachel, 35, said: “He has joined Middleton Rangers Disability Football Club at Darlington which he attends weekly. He loves it and it’s such a great achievement since we were told he may never walk let alone learn to play football.”

Before the operation, Liam had to use a walking frame and wore leg splints after being born 10 weeks early, causing him to develop the debilitating condition cerebral palsy.

He couldn’t play football or do what he most wanted to – run like his friends.

But now, his life has changed completely.

His inspirational story moved the judges in the Sunderland Echo Best of Wearside Awards last year.

They were so impressed, they chose Liam as one of the winners in the Child of Courage category.

Now Rachel has urged people to nominate candidates for this year’s awards - to follow in Liam’s footsteps.

Our next winner could be the unassuming next door neighbour who spends their spare time making a difference in their community or the reluctant hero who risked their own safety to help others. Fill in the nomination form on this page or visit http://www.jpne-events.co.uk/