A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy who is undergoing gruelling operations to repair a cleft palate is all smiles after raising more than £500 for research into the condition.
Will Helstrip, a pupil at Dunnington primary school, organised a cake sale and non-uniform day at the school and also gave a talk on cleft palate to fellow pupils in a special assembly yesterday.
Despite facing more surgery this year, which will involve bone being removed from his hip to repair his mouth, Will says he is looking forward to it.
“They will take the bone from my hip and use it to repair underneath my gum,” he said.
“I should find it a lot easier to speak afterwards. I’m looking forward to it because I will get two weeks off school.”
Will said the idea for yesterday’s cake sale came following a meeting he had with people from CLAPA, the Cleft Lip And Palate Association, at his school. He said he expected the total raised from the event to be well over £500.
His mother, Ruth, said: “Children are very curious and naturally, Will has faced quite a lot of questions from his peers about why his appearance is slightly different.
“Over the years, he has sometimes found it difficult to deal with other people’s reactions, but he has increasingly become very proud of who he is and wants to educate others and raise awareness of clefts.”
She said Will was diagnosed while in the womb and underwent his first operation at three-months-old, when his soft palate was repaired.
According to CLAPA, a cleft palate develops during early pregnancy when separate areas of the face form individually and then join together.
If some parts do not join properly the result is a cleft, the type and severity of which can vary.
To donate to Will’s campaign, visit his Just Giving page at justgiving.com/William-Helstrip
For more information on the condition go to clapa.com