It was thought that bubbly Abbie Pinder may have to live her life never being able to walk.
Yet the six-year-old has defied the odds to take her first steps, with her family proudly looking on.
The youngster, from Seaham Harbour, County Durham, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly before her first birthday and medics feared she would always need a wheelchair.
But a year of conductive therapy and physiotherapy from children’s charity Heel & Toe in County Durham, Abbie walked through the school gates on the first day of term at the Ribbon School in Murton, County Durham, with the help of her ‘kaye walker’.
Proud dad Graeme, 43, said: “It was just the best feeling I had in my life. It was overwhelming and such a momentous day for all of us.
“Abbie actually broke down in tears she was so emotional. People were standing watching in awe. The reception staff and teachers were giving her a round of applause.
“It is bordering on a miracle for my wife and I what has happened.”
Abbie achieved the milestone much to the delight of her twin sister Ellie and parents Graeme, and Zoe, 32.
The youngster has been given a weekly session of conductive therapy offered free by Heel & Toe, topped up with physiotherapy from the charity and she has gone from moving round on her knees to standing tall and walking with her walker in the space of just a year.
Graeme said: “Abbie used to get around by shuffling on her knees. To think that she would be able to stand up is amazing. It is fantastic to see her on her feet.
“It has done wonders for her confidence as she feels more involved and accepted.”
Graeme and Zoe are optimistic about the future of their daughter as she works towards the goal of taking some independent steps.
“In my mind Heel & Toe has saved her life,” said dad-of-two Graeme.
“Without them she would’ve been left to waste away yet they’ve given her a life without a wheelchair and brought back her self-esteem.”
The family is now backing Heel & Toe’s New Building Campaign which aims to raise approximately £150,000 to refurbish an old doctors’ Surgery in Chester-le-Street.
Graeme added: “The effort that goes into working with the children to help them develop and to achieve their milestones is phenomenal.
And there are families with children who are more restricted physically than Abbie so the support the new centre will offer is a lifeline for them.”
The work on the building needs to start in January 2014 to have it ready for the Easter holidays.
For more information or to make a donation contact Amanda Tweedy, development and fundraising officer at Amanda.email@example.com; call 0191 386 8606 or visit www.heelandtoe.org.uk or contact them on: firstname.lastname@example.org