Battling Alfie Smith has hit the road as he gets set to undergo a life-changing operation.
Nine-year-old Alfie, who has cerebral palsy, will travel to Leeds with mum Annie Stalley this week for surgery which will help him to walk unaided and pain-free.
And to send him off in style, the motorbike-mad youngster received dozens of special visitors at the weekend.
Members of motorcycle club North East Bikers turned up at Alfie’s aunt Melanie Stalley’s home on Saturday morning to wish him well - and Alfie even got a chance to head out on the highway himself.
The visit was the brainchild of club member Grant Robson, who had heard about Alfie’s passion for bikes and got in touch with Melanie to arrange the visit.
Alfie had no idea of what was about to happen when he arrived at his aunt’s house on the Coast Road, Blackhall Rocks, as she explained.
We just told him he had a surprise, but we did not tell him what the surprise was going to be.Melanie Stalley
“They asked me if they could bring everybody over to give Alfie a great send-off,” she said.
“We just told him he had a surprise, but we did not tell him what the surprise was going to be.
“He just went out the front as they were coming, and they all came along tooting their horns and stopping to speak to him
“Then they took him out on the trike for a ride just from my house down to Crimdon.”
It was a dream come true for Alfie.
“His face just lit up,” said Melanie. “He was really excited - he never stopped smiling.”
Even Melanie was amazed by the number of bikers who turned out to wish Alfie well.
“It was amazing, to be honest,” she said. “There just have been 60 of them at least. Alfie was absolutely over the moon.”
Alfie’s family had to raise a minimum of £50,000 to cover the costs of at least two years’ aftercare before this week’s operation - selective dorsal rhizotomy - could be scheduled.
Fundraising is already underway to cover the cost of a third year and specialist equipment which will also be needed to give the youngster the best chance of walking.
Donations can be made to Alfie’s Trust Fund, sortcode 30-98-90 Account 16304360.