BUS drivers will be spreading festive cheer around town in a bid to raise funds for a young boy with a rare muscular condition.

The drivers, from Arriva North East’s Darlington depot, will be wearing Christmas jumpers throughout the whole of December.

Some buses will be driven by Santa and his elves, with collection buckets on board, while the team will also be donating £5 each from their December wages to Our Fight for Ryan - a family fund set up for six-year-old Ryan Chidzey.

Ryan was just three when his parents, Claire and Cieran, received the news that he had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a rare muscle-wasting disease.

The condition, which is usually diagnosed in boys before the age of five, is a genetic disorder that causes muscle wasting. Many children with DMD can be wheelchair-bound by the age of 12 and often experience problems with breathing and the heart.

Determined to find a cure in Ryan’s lifetime the family, from Gainford, have almost reached their target of a £50,000 donation for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

The Northern Echo:

Claire Chidzey, Ryan’s mum and founder of Our Fight For Ryan, said: “When Ryan received his diagnosis we were told that he would be in a wheelchair by age 12, and wouldn’t make it to his twenties.

"We set up Our Fight For Ryan two years ago to help find a cure and improve the quality of life for every child living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

“The support that we have received from the community across Teesside so far has been amazing, we’ve managed to raise £45.5k and hopefully this donation from Arriva North East will help to reach our goal so that we can focus on spending time with Ryan and making memories.”

The team at Arriva Darlington made the decision to get involved when Ryan’s uncle, who works for Arriva, approached his teammates with the idea.

Nathan Stanislawski, general manager of Arriva’s Darlington depot, said: “When we were asked whether we would want to take part in some fundraising for Ryan our immediate answer was yes.

"Working in the local community, we were already aware of Our Fight For Ryan and the amazing work of the Chidzey family.

“We’re hopeful that our customers in Darlington will join us to help raise these vital funds to find a cure in Ryan’s lifetime.”