A YOUNGSTER with cerebral palsy inspired staff at Nationwide to raise thousands of pounds for a life-changing operation.

Four-year-old Raife Wilson visited Nationwide’s HQ in Swindon and met staff - and the director of the society’s branches - following a fundraiser by branches across Wiltshire and the south west that raised £3,200 to go towards an operation to help him walk again.

The money will go towards a selective dorsal rhizotomy operation, which isn’t available on the NHS, costing £45,000, including a lengthy rehabilitation period.

Mum Laura Wilson told the Adver: “He got absolutely spoiled rotten and showered with gifts, including a remote-controlled car. He had access to areas that even some staff aren’t allowed to go into.

“He really loved it, it was just a good fun day out for him. Especially going up and down the glass lift, playing Connect 4 with staff, and his remote-controlled car which was definitely his favourite thing of the day.”

Laura has managed to raise more than £24,000 to go towards the surgery and says it is enough to pay for it, but the rehabilitation afterwards will use up the remaining amount.

“The staff have really taken the pressure off massively,” she added.

“It’s given us the boost that we needed, there’s only so much you can raise asking the same family and friends and you reach a bit of a stand still.

“The aftercare is just as important because he’s got to learn to walk again.”

The family will meet with consultant surgeons early next year to establish whether it’s the right time for Raife to have the major operation.

“We need to establish whether he’s truly ready for it. It’s a huge decision and it’s not something you can do twice. It’s a once in a lifetime thing,” said Laura, of Melksham.

Debbie Mills, who works in Nationwide’s Croft branch and set up a fundraising page for Raife said: “When Laura came in to talk about her son Raife and the amount of money needed for this life-changing operation we immediately wanted to help.

“Raife has come into branch and even our Head Office to meet people, including our Director of the Branch Network, and touches the hearts of everyone he meets. We feel that this is such a worthy cause to raise money for and we’ll continue to do so for the next nine months.”

Adrian Ball, south west regional director said: “Our branches choose many different local causes to support, and raising money for a little boy like Raife is something I’m proud that we are able to do. A huge thanks for the donations from our members and employees who have shown so much support.”