Heysham boy’s £16k riff campaign goes viral

From left: Steven Wren, Rory Holmes, Neil Thomson and Jim and Shirley Holmes.
From left: Steven Wren, Rory Holmes, Neil Thomson and Jim and Shirley Holmes.
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A 12-year-old Heysham boy’s bid to raise £16,000 for a life-changing operation is hitting the right notes with musicians.

Rory Holmes, who has Cerebral Palsy, has launched a fundraising campaign which he hopes will raise enough funds to pay for a major operation on his legs.

Rory’s Rhizotomy Riff Challenge has seen musicians from Lancaster and Morecambe, and as far away as America, recording their favourite music riff and posting it to social media. The campaign has come to the attention of thousands of people across the world and has already raised £7,000.

Rory was born with Cerebral Palsy, but as he gets older and taller, his condition means that his legs cause him more and more problems.

An operation is available at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, but it costs £16,000 and is not currently funded by the NHS.

So Rory, 12, from Heysham, has launched the musically minded Riff Challenge with his dad Jim - and the campaign has already raised £7,000 towards the procedure in the space of a week.

Jim and Rory Holmes

Jim and Rory Holmes

Rory, who attends Morecambe Road School, said: “Basically, I don’t have a lot of control over them (his legs), so they get really stiff and difficult to move which makes it hard for me to travel around in my powered wheelchair as my legs and feet stick out.

“I have to have them strapped down most of the time for safety and this gets really uncomfortable and painful. The high tone and extension in my legs also makes it really hard for my parents to dress me and get me on the loo etc!”

Rory said the operation would help his legs feel more relaxed, while mum Shirley said the relief of pressure would help strengthen his upper body at the same time.

The Challenge has seen musicians from across Lancaster and Morecambe – and as far away as America and Siberia – recording musical riffs, sharing them on Facebook, and nominating friends and fellow musicians to take part, as well as sharing the link to Rory’s gofundme page.

Rory’s dad Jim Holmes, a guitarist himself who works at Promenade Music in Morecambe, is helping Rory with the campaign.

So far, eleven videos have been uploaded in less than a week, gaining thousands of views, and encouraging people to donate.

It is hoped more musicians will get involved to spread the word.

Jim said: “The response has been overwhelming.

“We expected to have raised a few hundred pounds by this point, but so many people have come forward with offers of help.”

The operation is called Dorsal Rhizotomy surgery, and is led by Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon, Benedetta Pettorini.

A rhizotomy is a neurosurgical procedure that selectively destroys problematic nerve roots, most often to relieve the symptoms of neuromuscular conditions such as spastic diplegia and other forms of spastic cerebral palsy.

To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/rorysrhizotomy. To see the music videos, visit https://www.facebook.com/rorysrhizotomyriffchallenge.