Banburyshire family sets up fundraising effort to help give their son a voice

A Woodford Halse family is holding a sponsored walk next month as part of a fundraising bid to help give their two-year-old son a voice.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 12:01 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 2:53 pm
Albie Willett, aged two, who is unable to speak because of verbal dyspraxia. Picture by Lucky Stars Photography

Albie Willett is a happy and condfident two-year-old but he has a condition that means he is unable to speak.

Albie is having special voice and language coaching to help him, as he can often be left frustrated when he cannot communicate what he wants to say.

Now his family is fundraising to buy a speech board for his school in Culworth and other schools in their area.

Albie Willett, right, with sister Eleanora, aged five, and baby Ruby, aged ten months

Albie was diagnosed with verbal dyspraxia in January after his parents began to worry about his lack of speech.

The condition means the brain is unable to send the correct signals to the mouth and tongue to make sounds or words.

According to his mum - Louisa Galloway - the two-year-old has never babbled or talked and can only utter limited sounds.

She said: “Albie has always been very quiet but we assumed he was a thinker not a talker and his big sister, Eleanora, is also quite chatty.

Albie Willett and his big sister Eleanora, aged five

“After he started pre-school around Christmas last year, I started to get really worried as he couldn’t tell us what he wanted.

“Albie started to get really frustrated when he went to play with other children because they didn't understand him.

“He uses a lot of pointing and gestures and it has taken us years to learn what he wants to say and we know him quite well, so it must be so hard for him with people who don’t know him so well.

“Albie is very resilient though and he just gets on with it. It is lucky he is such a happy and confident boy but he needs the opportunity to be heard and understood, especially at school."

Albie attends speech therapy once a week and his family are doing all they can to help him learn to talk but they are not sure how long this will take.

In the meantime, they are hoping to raise money to buy a speech board for his pre-school and his future primary school in Culworth to help Albie and any other children with communication difficulties.

The board will help Albie to communicate what he needs and wants at school, as there will be pictures he can point to.

As well as Albie’s primary school, the family is also planning to buy boards for other primary schools in the area to help other children with communication difficulties.

“It’s not solving the problem but it will help him as he goes through school,” said Ms Galloway.

“It’s not the same as being able to speak and he will still get frustrated but it is a start and it will make him feel proud that he is able to communicate what he wants. Albie deserves to have a voice while he can't use his own.”

The target on the online fundraiser has already been beaten so Ms Galloway is also hoping to buy an iPad for the school, which will be loaded with a system that can speak for Albie and other children. Any additional funds will be donated to a verbal dyspraxia charity.

To donate to Albie's fundraising page see https://uk.gofundme.com/f/help-give-albie-a-voiceThe family, Ms Galloway, her partner Paul Willett and the three children, are organising a sponsored walk in the grounds of Blenheim Palace Sunday, May 16 at 11am. Families can do the walk at their own pace and possibly take a picnic; dogs are allowed on leads.

Everyone will be asked to wear blue, the colour of the Verbal Dyspraxia awareness movement and some of the children will have specially printed teeshirts. The family hopes that 30 - 40 people will take part. Details of booking will be available on the Go Fund Me page and a Facebook event will be created.