Heysham ‘riff challenge’ schoolboy has life-changing op

Rory Holmes.
Rory Holmes.

When young Rory Holmes wiggled his toes after life-changing surgery his family knew it was a good sign.

The 12-year-old schoolboy from Heysham is now recovering after an operation to help ease some of the symptoms of cerebral palsy.

His dad Jim said that although it’s early days, there are immediate indications that the procedure has been a success.

The op came after Rory and his family raised more than £16,000 in three weeks through an online music video challenge to pay for the surgery.

Rory’s Rhizotomy Riff Challenge captured the imagination of musicians from the local area and in other parts of the world.

The operation wasn’t available on the NHS but the money helped Rory have the major surgery on his legs at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.

Jim said he and wife Shirley have noticed improvements in Rory’s condition.

“It wasn’t quite as plain sailing as we’d hoped but it’s been done,” he said.

“We are seeing a difference in his legs but it’s still quite early days.

“It’s a case of making it more comfortable for him on a day-to-day basis and life more easy for us when moving and handling him. That’s been achieved straightaway.

“We saw his toes wiggling. We’ve never seen that before.”

Before the Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery Rory didn’t have much control over his legs.

The Morecambe Road schoolboy, who uses a powered wheelchair, had to have them strapped down most of the time for safety and this caused him pain. The operation was to relieve pressure on his legs and strengthen his upper body at the same time.

Jim, a musician who works at the Promenade Music shop in Morecambe, said he was grateful to everyone who supported the Riff Challenge.

Musicians posted a social media video of themselves playing a riff to raise awareness of Rory’s ‘gofundme’ page. The family now wants to raise funds for others in a similar position to Rory.

As revealed last week, a group of local people have made their own comedy music video which will be released soon to help promote the new campaign.

“The positivity from people has been totally life-affirming,” said Jim.

“I’ve even had people walk into the shop and give me £10.

“It’s been a wonderful thing to see.”