A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy will be given life-changing surgery which could allow him to walk unaided for the first time, after a dramatic U-turn by the NHS.

Ronnie Foster, six, was born with diplegic spastic cerebral palsy and is unable to walk without help.

His parents Anthony, 33, and Kylie, 40, were told he was eligible for the operation, but they would have to pay the £26,000 cost after NHS funding was cut.

The family began fundraising and collected £9,000 before they received the news the NHS would pay after all.

Now, 120 children will undergo the surgery on the NHS as part of a trial to gather evidence on the effectiveness of the procedure.

Mr Foster, of Hatley Gardens, Benfleet, said: “We were over the moon when we found out. It is such good news and Ronnie is now booked to have the operation in March.”

Although it will be offered on the NHS, the family are still determined to raise £20,000 to help Ronnie after the op.

Mr Foster added: “Ronnie was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital and they accepted him for the operation, but later the funding was withdrawn.

“Now he is booked in for the operation we are still trying to raise money for his rehab and physio. So far, we have raised £9,000 but we are still £11,000 short of our target.”

The money will go towards paying for three private physiotherapy sessions a week for Ronnie, a pupil at Jotmans Hall Primary School, in High Road, Benfleet.

Cerebral palsy means Ronnie is permanently on tip-toes, due to stiffness in his legs and has little balance. The operation will hopefully ease the tension in his legs and improve his mobility by cutting the affected nerves in his spine.

For more information, or to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/ronnieswish towalk or email Mr Foster at anthonyfoster@ sky.com