My name is Paul Pounder and I work as an eLearning Developer at Microlise looking after the company’s Knowledge Portal.
Away from Microlise I am married to Clair and have two children, Olivia and William. We have been through quite a journey with William, who is now five years old. This journey started at my wife’s 20 week scan, which can be a really exciting time, getting to see your baby for the first time. It can also be the opposite. For my wife and myself our journey started with the sonographer switching off the scan machine, turning around to us and saying “I’m so sorry.”
I’ll never forget those words, and it still angers me to this day. Will was diagnosed with a condition called Talipes, commonly known as clubfoot. The condition affects one baby in a thousand born in the UK. We were advised of a support charity called STEPS who gave us all the details of the treatment Will would go through, gave us an avenue to speak to parents of other children with the condition. It was the most valuable resource we could wish for.
Will was born in August 2009 and his condition was confirmed as Bilateral Talipes. It affected both feet and was classed as severe. He would undergo treatment from two weeks old, which would continue until he was at least four. He would first complete a weekly plaster casting of his legs from hips to toes where the consultant would reposition the feet weekly. After 9 weeks of weekly plastercast changes, Will had a tenotomy which meant the slicing of his tendons in both ankles and he would be replastered for another three weeks.
He would then have to wear special boots and bar for 23 and a half hours a day for the next three to four months. For the first six months of his life he was so restricted every minute of the day, which made it so hard for him to sleep and settle.
At this point the consultant was really happy with his progress and reduced his boots and bar time to nap and bed time, until he was at least four years old. On his fourth birthday Will wore his boots and bar for the final time, his feet were corrected and you would never know he was born with the condition.
There were times we felt we’d never get there, there were many emotional milestones, seeing him walk for the first time was the biggest. Others including his tenotomy, seeing him kick a football, playing with friends in the playground and recently his first sports day. He came last in the running race, but that was more of a ‘takes after his father’.
It’s a condition that will affect him throughout his life, but there are many other people out there who have never let it affect them. You would never know that Steven Gerrard was born with the condition, along with a number of other sporting stars.
Towards the end of his treatment I felt I wanted to thank STEPS for their support. I’d completed a number of runs for them already raising a few hundred pounds, but felt I wanted to do something big for what I felt was a small charity supporting such common conditions. Having seen the Red Nose Day climb, and even Jeff Stelling off Soccer Saturday reach the top of Africa I wanted to do the same.
So at the end of July I will be flying out to Tanzania to climb the highest free standing mountain in the world, Kilimanjaro, hoping to raise £5000 for a charity that has helped support my family. The money will be used by STEPS to continue to support many other parents of children with this and similar conditions, to help raise awareness of the condition and to educate as many people as possible so the words “I’m so sorry” never need to be spoken again.
My fundraising campaign is called ClimbSteps – you can view more at www.climbsteps.co.uk and donate at www.justgiving.com/ClimbSteps. The video below also gives you an overview of Talipes, Will’s story and my fundraising campaign. Over the next few months I will update this blog with my progress as I train and get myself ready to climb Kilimanjaro for STEPS.