A LITTLE girl has undergone a life-changing operation to help her walk for the first time.

Six-year-old Sophie Thompson was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy when she was 16 months old.

The painful condition meant she has grown up with her legs in splints and unable to move about without the assistance of a walking frame or wheelchair.

But her hope those hardships will soon be a thing of the past as Sophie has now undergone a pioneering selective dorsal rhizotomy operation at Bristol’s Frenchay Hospital.

Sophie was able to have the surgery thanks to a fund-raising appeal championed by her devoted great-grandparents Ann and Brian Richardson, from Colwall.

Although Sophie lives with her family in Poole, Dorset, she enjoys frequent visits to see Mr and Mrs Richardson in the shadow of the Malvern Hills.

The NHS was unable to fund Sophie’s surgery, leaving her family with little choice but to launch their fundraising appeal to raise the £40,000 needed to pay for the complex procedure and subsequent physiotherapy.

Despite the appeal only launching earlier this year it has already raised more than £60,000.

Mr Richardson has been delighted at the response and said whatever funds are surplus will be donated to help other children suffering from the same condition.

Mr Richardson said he had been amazed at the “warm-hearted” response to the appeal from people all over the country, including here in Malvern where a host of fundraising events have taken place.

“We would like to express our heart-felt thanks to all those who have supported the drive to help Sophie to walk,” he said. “This fantastic achievement has been due to the incredible generosity of people and we have been deeply touched by this.”

Sophie’s surgery was successful and she is now undergoing an intensive post-operation exercise regime to help her walk.

“Sophie is responding well to the treatment, and remains cheerful and motivated in her efforts,” said Mr Richardson.

The fundraising appeal is still open and anyone who would like to donate can visit justgiving.com/mymagiclegs.