Inspiring youngster Alfie Smith has taken yet another step towards independence after climbing the stairs at his school.
The 10-year-old who has cerebal palsy reached the milestone just 13 months on from undergoing life-changing surgery to help him walk.
Alfie, a pupil at Throston Primary School in Hartlepool, had an operation last March called selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR).
The surgery, which aimed to reduce stiffness and spasticity to improve movement, followed a £50,000 fundraising campaign.
Since then Alfie, from Holdforth Road in Hartlepool, has been undergoing intense physiotherapy to improve his mobility and achieve his goal of walking independently.
Alfie managed to use the stairs for the first time just last week and he is now working towards being able to walk with just one quadstick.
Alfie’s mum Annie Stalley said that being able to climb the stairs was a incredible achievement.
“He has been working on the stairs for quite a long time now - right from the beginning, a year before his surgery,” she said.
“It was just impossible at that point - he physically couldn’t do it.
“He was very weak, had no strength and was stiff.
“But he since the surgery he is just progressing, he is gaining strength and he is learning how to make the movements properly.
“He has started to go up the stairs using a hand support and the bannister.
“He is using a side step to get up the stairs and has to really think about the positioning of his feet.”
Alfie has been working with conductive education teacher Tunde Romsics at the school for weekly one-to-one sessions, in addition to the support from his physio and mum who all work together to help him practice improving his mobility.
Annie added: “Everything is coming together lovely and he is progressing really well all the time.
“I always want to see him progressing, so to actually see him do it in real life rather than just dreaming is so nice.
“Alfie has been working with Tunde for a lot of years now and is making progress with her.
“There are people behind him working together as a team to help him progress that way he is.”