A team of Tadley firefighters walked for 18 hours straight to help improve the life of a little boy from the town with a rare brain condition over the weekend.
Six-year-old Oliver Witcomb suffers from Lissencephaly, or smooth brain, which has led to him having the developmental age of a three- to six-month-old baby.
His condition also prevents him from being able to sit or stand without help; meaning his parents have to carry him around a lot of the time – something that has led to mum Louise developing a bad back.
But a team led by Tadley Fire Station watch manager Sally Gould did their best to take some of the weight off Louise and dad Darren’s shoulders on Saturday as they completed a 55-mile trek to each of Hampshire’s 10 stations, all while carrying a 30kg dummy on a stretcher.
Most children diagnosed with the degenerative condition sadly don’t make it past the age of 10, although all the money raised from the walk will go towards altering the Witcomb family home to Oliver’s needs for years to come.
Louise said: “He is gorgeous and courageous in everything he goes through and he has a beautiful character.
“So far any fundraising has been done by family members or close friends of the family.
“Sally and the Tadley crew are the first people who have no connection to us directly who offered to help.
“It shows how amazing our local fire service is, saving and helping lives in any way they can.”
She added: “It is comforting to know there are genuinely good people who are willing to do this for us and Oliver.”
The youngster currently shares a bedroom with brother Charlie, although his mum and dad are hoping to raise enough money to pay for Oliver to have his own room downstairs, with its own shower.
Louise and Darren have already secured a disabled facilities grant of £30,000 to help make the improvements, which also include hoisting equipment to help him be more mobile and play with his brother and sister Tallulah.
And the firefighters helped them closer to their £60,000 target on Saturday as, after starting off a Yateley Fire Station on Saturday at 9am, they finally reached their last stop in Tadley at around 3.30am on Sunday morning after a gruelling effort.
Sally said: “Oliver is a lovely little lad.
“If the money can be raised to get this work done it would be so much help to Oliver and the family in general.
“It would massively improve their quality of life.”
Around £2,000 has been raised by the family so far through their Oliver’s Dream campaign, while more than £4,000 has also been collected through several other events.
And mum Louise was quick to thank the Tadley public and beyond for their “overwhelming” support.
She added: “Thankful and grateful aren’t words that can describe fully how much we really do appreciate this.
“It’s something we will never forget and the modifications we are hoping for will be life-changing for Oliver and the whole family.
“All these works won’t just relieve issues we have now but will be suitable for Oliver as he grows for years to come.”
To make a donation to Oliver’s Dream, visit gofundme.com/Oliver-s_Dream.