Baldock boy, 8, with form of cerebral palsy takes on 20-mile walking challenge

Thomas and Eliza

Thomas and Eliza - Credit: Archant

An eight-year-old boy with a form of cerebral palsy is walking 20 miles with his sister to raise awareness of the condition.

Thomas Rathband from Baldock was born with hemiplegia, a lifelong neurological condition caused by birth trauma, stroke or infection which causes a weakness in one side of the body and can lead to epilepsy, learning difficulties and speech and visual impairment.

Along with his six-year-old sister Eliza, Thomas, who has reduced movement down his left side, has taken on the challenge of walking 20 miles to raise funds for parent-led charity Hemi Chat.

So far the pair have completed 16 of their 20 miles, including walking three and a half miles around Ridlins Wood Athletics Track in Stevenage and seven miles at Wimpole Hall near Royston.

Ahead of the final four-mile leg, the siblings are around £50 short of their £200 fundraising target for Hemi Chat, which supports more than 900 children and families who are living with hemiplegia.

Their mother Carolyn Rathband, a trustee and fundraising manager for Hemi Chat, said: “When Thomas was diagnosed at nine months old we were told he may never walk or lead a ‘normal’ life and that his future was uncertain.

“To hear those words was devastating.

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“Eight years on, Thomas has proved them all wrong. He is a delightful, happy, cheeky little boy, who always gives 100% and never gives up or complains about the constant physiotherapy and hospital appointments he has to endure.

“Through exercise and sheer perseverance he has good use of his leg, but very limited functional use of his arm. He wears splints on his leg and his arm, but tires easily and uses a wheelchair for longer distances.

“He didn’t walk until he was two-and-a half years old – on the day his sister was born – and didn’t talk until he was four. He loves playing football, swimming and running, and he also plays paralympic sport, boccia, for the North Herts Nemos, a team run by N-Able Herts Disability Sports Association.

“Through Hemi Chat, Thomas was also given the opportunity to meet his hero, paralympian swimmer Sascha Kindred. Sascha also has hemiplegia and as patron of Hemi Chat inspires all the parents and children with his success. Because of Sascha, Thomas wants to be a paralympian himself one day!

“Although Eliza is fit and healthy, hemiplegia has affected her life too. From a young age she has been aware of the difficulties Thomas has with everyday tasks, she will help to dress him, carry his bags and encourage him to use his hand. Needless to say we are immensely proud of both our amazing children.”

The siblings are aiming to complete the last leg of their challenge next weekend, on either the Greenway in Letchworth GC, or closer to home in Baldock.

To support Thomas and Eliza’s challenge visit