A TODDLER hoping to undergo a life-changing operation to help her walk unaided is getting closer to her dream.

Three-year-old Ruby Atkins, of Rogiet, suffers from cerebral palsy and her family are raising funds so that she can undergo an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) which could enable her to walk independently.

But now the process of building up to the operation has officially got underway after the toddler had a consultation at the Great Ormond Street Hospital at the end of May.

Her parents hope that is where she will have her operation.

Antony Atkins, Ruby's father, said: "It went very well, it's the start of the whole process which will lead to the operation.

"Ruby will receive a course of Botox treatment to her legs which will give us the first indication of how the operation will go. The injections will temporarily relax her muscles and reduce stiffness, hopefully this will happen in the next few months."

He added: "Ruby has had new tripod sticks, she is doing quite well on those. She is a lot more confident on them, a lot sturdier than her walking frame.

"We hope to get Ruby a place at Bobath, the children’s centre in Cardiff who have two week intense physiotherapy sessions which she would really benefit from."

Funding for the botox treatment is available on the NHS but the main operation is not..

The family with the help of the community have raised £26,800 towards the £40,000 needed for the operation through car washes, cake sales, raffles, and individual fundraising such as completing the Abergavenny Three Peaks.

Mr Atkins said: “The fundraising efforts have being going quite well, it’s gathering pace now.

"We raised £500 today with washing 75 cars and a dress down day at Rachael’s work in the Ministry of Justice. A friend of ours is having a cake sale in her work on Friday so hopefully by the end of this week we will be over £27,000.”

The family raised more than £2,000 at the Cider and Perry Festival which was held at the Caldicot Castle recently. Mr Atkins and three friends will also be cycling from Magor to Paris in September and have secured sponsorship of £1600 from Gwent businesses including Nathan James Estate Agents in Caldicot , Undy Athletic Club and Satellite Finance in Newport.

To donate visit http://www.justgiving.com/rubyatkins