A boy told he faced life in a wheelchair six years ago has a spring in his step as he turns 16 – thanks to Mirror readers.

Cerebral palsy sufferer Ben Baddeley had a vital op axed in February 2014 under Tory cuts.

But after we highlighted his ordeal, readers raised the £20,000 needed to have it privately, and then helped cover his physio costs.

Hollywood actor Martin Sheen was so moved by our story he donated £2,000 and still sends Ben a birthday message every year.

Ben’s mum Amy, 35, and dad Gary, 44, kept a video diary of his hard work building strength – including using an underwater running machine.

Ben was told he faced life in a wheelchair

Now Ben, of Silverdale, Staffs, is doing GCSEs and will go to South Cheshire College to train as a chef.

Amy said: “We can’t quite believe he is 16. We are celebrating in quarantine as Ben is shielding from the pandemic. But he is happy, healthy and loving life. He has come so very far.

“We would like to say a massive thank you to Mirror readers for the part they played in helping Ben become the happy, healthy young man he is today.”

Ben’s cerebral palsy meant he had misfiring nerves, causing constant tightness in his leg muscles.

The selective dorsal rhizotomy op he had cut nerves that were not working and left the healthy ones.

Amy and Gary, who also have son Joshua, 11, faced huge bills for physio, raising another £35,000
on gofundme. They still pay for ­fortnightly sessions but Ben is doing two workouts a day at home during lockdown.