'It makes him a happier little boy' - Sunderland mum's plea to help specialist school which supports her son

George, pictured with his sister Lucy.
George, pictured with his sister Lucy.
Have your say

A mum whose son suffered a devastating stroke aged just 16 months has launched a heartfelt appeal for support for the school which has brought joy to his life.

Dawn Harding, 34, of Herrington, Sunderland, was left heartbroken when little George Finley had an ischemic stroke which paralysed him down his right side and with brain damage.

George has been attending the school for around a year.

George has been attending the school for around a year.

After winning his battle for life, George was left with very limited sight, and had to have a tracheostomy inserted because he had respiratory failure.

Now aged four, he is unable to crawl or walk, but recently learned to sit up unaided.

For about a year, he has attended Sunningdale School, on Shaftoe Road, Springwell, which caters for children with profound, multiple and severe learning needs.

Dawn, also a mum to Lucy Harding, 12, credits the school with giving her little boy confidence and helping him get through some extremely difficult times.

George at school.

George at school.

The school regularly raises funds for new equipment, and is currently fundraising for specialist bikes the children can use with their parents.

Dawn has launched an emotional appeal for the public to help out in any way they can.

She said: "When I found out that the school has to raise funds for equipment, it really touched my heart.

"Most of these children have lifelong illnesses which adults would struggle to deal with and a lot of them have an uncertain future. They need these little things and experiences.

George and Lucy.

George and Lucy.

"I remember teaching my daughter how to ride a bike, but I can't with my son. This would give me and other parents the chance to do that.

"It's such a fantastic school which just needs a little bit of help. I'm sure there are people out there who can help us."

George spent a year in hospital battling for life, and Dawn admits she was "anxious" when she first took him to Sunningdale.

However, he now attends five days a week and has made lots of friends.

She added: "I see people stare at George in the street and some people turn away from him. He doesn't understand that.

"He doesn't get any of that at school. It makes him a happier little boy and he's not judged there.

"These people have my child's life in their hands. I was an anxious mother at first and didn't want to leave him there, but they are a fantastic school and deserve everything.

"He's such a happy little boy now and is excited when he wakes up in the morning. Me and him dance going into school because he's so excited."

Sunningdale caters for children aged two to 11 and provides a catered curriculum around identified needs.

Dawn is hopeful that the community will come together to support the school.

She said: "I can't let go of this now, because I think it's wrong it's not already funded.

"These children have struggled all their little lives and they've all fought to be here.

"The bikes might not seem significant to some people, but it would give the children such a great experience and give the parent a great memory as well.

"I wish I had the money myself, because I'd give them every penny. The school deal with things fantastically and just need that little bit of help."

To donate, call 0191 553 5880 for more information or send an email to sunningdale@schools.sunderland.gov.uk