Jaye makes strides after his big op

November 30 2014

LAST Christmas was a dark and difficult time for the Cook family. They had been told an operation which could help their young son walk was not funded by the NHS and would cost £35,000.

jaye cook

LAST Christmas was a dark and difficult time for the Cook family. They had been told an operation which could help their young son walk was not funded by the NHS and would cost £35,000.

And when most young families were pulling crackers and tucking into turkey, all the Cooks could think about is how they would raise the huge sum of money to give little Jaye, who has cerebral palsy, a chance of a normal life.

Forward on a year, and mum Melanie and dad Martin are looking forward to a happy Christmas and a brighter future.

For their plight has captured the hearts of many Bristolians who have rallied together to help them reach their fundraising target.

Six-year-old Jaye has now undergone the selective dorsal rhizotomy operation at Bristol Children’s Hospital and, after 21 days, is back home recovering with his family by his side.

At his home in John Road, Kingswood, Jaye’s spirits are kept up by sister Macy, seven, brother Sonny, two, and step-sister Daisy, 11, who visits at weekends.

But recovering from his operation is only the half the battle.

Jaye now faces years of intensive and relentless rehabilitation before he is able to walk unaided.

The Cooks launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the operation, which is not usually funded by the NHS. But, to their delight, the family was told the NHS would agreed to pay for the procedure as part of a special trial launched at Bristol Children’s Hospital.


“I’d like to say thank you to everybody who has done everything they can to help us. There are so many people who have helped but I’d like to say a special thank you to Mike Collins and the fire-fighters from Speedwell Fire Station; Linda Buckham who approached me and offered to help; Hayley Carter, who works in the Downend community which has also helped us; and my sister Rachael Curnock, who has so much on her plate but has gone out of her way to help Jaye. Everyone has been so kind and we want to wish them all a merry Christmas.”

Melanie Cook


It means that all of the £70,000 raised will be spent on physiotherapy to help Jaye walk unaided.

As part of the operation, the nerves in Jaye’s spinal cord were cut to reduce the tightness in his legs.

And although the family spent an agonising six hours while Jaye was in surgery, the plucky youngster responded well.

Melanie, 40, said: “Jaye’s doing really well. It’s extremely hard work for Jaye and the family because of the sheer amount of physiotherapy and stretches he needs. He’s become so much weaker but he has to get weaker before he can improve and get better.”

The routine is indeed punishing. Jaye has to do 15 minutes of bed stretches when he wakes up followed by an hour in ‘gaiters’ which stretch his legs straight. 

After a break, Jaye will do an hour of physical physiotherapy with different activities including climbing up and down chairs and steps. Then Jaye has to spend another hour stretching his legs in his gaiters or he has the option to go in a stand-up frame if he wants a change.

Jaye then practices his walking and before bed he repeats the morning exercises and stretches. And if that wasn’t enough, Jaye has to fit in school work from Two Mile Hill Primary School between the sessions. As Jaye gets stronger, he will need to introduce swimming lessons, hydrotherapy, rock climbing, horse riding and cycling to boost his chances of success.

Although the family receives help from a private physiotherapist for three sessions and from a NHS physiotherapist once a week, Jaye and his family will go through this routine every day for two years.

Melanie, who works part-time at Kingswood Leisure Centre and also does voluntary work for Amnesty International, said: “It’s very time consuming and extremely hard work. All the other children are feeling a bit left out. But it will be worth it.

“Every penny which has been raised will be spent on Jaye’s physiotherapy - anything which will help build his strength and muscles.

“Jaye’s been ever so good and is working hard. He’s done everything expected of him and hasn’t complained.

“Every day he is getting stronger and stronger.”

Melanie said although they have reached their fundraising target any further money which comes in would be put to good use.

“It will all be spent on his aftercare. If there were any extra funds it would be nice to spoil the other children a bit, perhaps take them away for a weekend so they don’t feel left out. It would be nice for the family to do something together.” 

Melanie said it was important to stay positive and look forward to the future.

“We are all looking forward to Christmas especially now his little brother is two - it’s going to be fun.

“He will still have to do his exercises on Christmas Day but we might cut it down a bit.

“Last Christmas I was just beginning to get the ball rolling regarding fundraising. I didn’t really know what to do or how to get there. I never thought we would reach our goal but we’ve done it in less than a year. It’s just unbelievable.”

jane cook family christmas