A seven-year-old boy whose parents were told he may never walk after he was born with a rare condition has battled the odds to take his first unaided steps.
Inspirational Rhys Taylor was born with Angelman Syndrome – a condition that affects the nervous system and causes severe physical and learning disabilities.
The condition went undiagnosed until Rhys was 15-months-old before his parents Sheri, 31, and Heath Taylor, 33, were told the devastating news of his diagnosis.
Rhys has since battled against the odds to first crawl and then stand on two feet, before walking with the help of a special wheelchair.
But, with help of teachers at his special needs school in Bolton, Greater Manchester, Rhys has now finally managed to walk unaided.
Sheri said: “It was a couple of weeks ago when he took his first steps on his own when he was a school.
“He has a waistband and one of the teachers held onto that with one of her hands and held hands with Rhys with the other.
“She first let go on his hand and then his waistband and he started walking on his own.”
Sheri said she wasn’t present when Rhys took his first unaided steps, but she went along to the school on Monday for a sports day where she witnessed her son walk.
She said: “It was amazing. The moment Rhys walked I couldn’t express how overjoyed I was.
“But it’s going to take a bit of work to make him be able to walk on this own comfortably.
“I know with Rhys the process will be a lot longer than it is with my other children but the fact that he is doing it is encouraging and he is quite excited about it all.
“He is starting to realise now it is an amazing thing.
“He has been working with physios and has a plan with his teachers to get him walking and we are well supported by everyone at the school.
“Each year that has gone by I kept thinking it wasn’t going to happen.
“I cannot put into words how much we have longed for this day.”
Sheri, from Bolton, said Rhys’ condition was not picked up at birth and after his development fell behind where it should have been health experts recommended he was tested to find out why.
Sheri, who is mum to four-year-old Nevaeh and 16-month-old Roman, said: “When he was born we had no idea about the condition. We were first time parents and we didn’t notice any of the signs because we weren’t looking for them.
“For the first couple of months we were blissfully unaware.
“He had suffered with severe reflux as a baby but we didn’t associate that with the syndrome before the diagnosis.
“At eight months he went for a health check with the health visitor and they said they needed to look into why he wasn’t developing.
“When we first got the diagnosis we had no idea about it. The doctor said he might have only ever seen one case before like it.
“The doctor that gave the diagnosis said it was going to define him for the rest of his life. I remember thinking I don’t know what that means.
“The initial couple of days we didn’t know what was going on, it was really scary.
“We were told most children with Angelman Syndrome don’t walk and wouldn’t ever be able to talk.”
Sheri said the family continually needs to fundraise to help Rhys’ development and mobility.
Sheri, who gave up her job as a personal assistant a year ago to care for her children full-time said: “Last year we went to Cornwall and Rhys loves beaches, he is absolutely obsessed by sand and water, but because his wheelchair wasn’t adapted we had to carry him onto the beach which took a lot of effort.
“But over the past year we have managed to fundraise for an adaptable wheelchair which will make it easier to get him on the beach this year.”
To donate to Rhys’ cause visit www.4ourangel.org.uk