A YOUNGSTER can stand unaided for the first time after a "life-changing" operation.

Ben Harris-Bell, five, had an operation in May after almost four years of fundraising.

The Evesham child has cerebral palsy which means that he needs a wheelchair for long distances and can only walk using a walking stick and similar appliances.

His mother, Emma Bell said: "It has been a life-changing operation for him. He is three weeks post-op and it has gone as well as it could have done. He is ahead of where I expected him to be.

"He can stand unaided for about 40 seconds, he has never been able to do that.

"Before the operation, his muscles were pulling his bones out of place. Now that will not happen.

"It is the best decision we ever made. We were terrified before the operation as any parent would be with their child but the results have been amazing.

"The operation was on his spine. A lot of his pain and discomfort that he experienced before the operation will go and he is already nearly as strong as he was before the operation.

"The process will take about two years, and the sky is the limit really. I don't think he will ever be able to walk long-distances without a wheelchair.

"He is having physio twice a day."

Ben has now been released from hospital after his operation in Bristol, with the whole £60,000 funding covered through donations.

The operation, a selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR), will sever the nerves in his spinal cord, stopping the tightness in his muscles which make them short and tight and allow him to get full normal muscle length through physiotherapy.

Ms Bell said: "We want to thank everyone who has donated and given Ben this chance, it means a lot to us and thank you just does not seem enough.

"We will still be raising funds to cover his post op therapy this will be intense for two to three years.

To donate to Ben's cause, visit www.justgiving.com/bensfirststeps.