A CHILDREN’S charity is well on the way to reaching its fundraising target of £600,000 for a new hydrotherapy centre.

Heel and Toe is building the brand new facility in Perkinsville, near Chester-le-Street, which will be the only one of its kind in the region.

It will house a large hydrotherapy pool for therapy sessions, allowing the charity to extend its life-changing services to children with cerebral palsy, including physiotherapy, speech and language therapy and special educational needs tutoring.

The charity has raised over £430,000 of its target a year on from the launch of its Footprints Appeal.

Kind donations and grants mean it is now on track to open the new centre to mark its tenth birthday in October this year.

This year’s annual Children’s Walk, on Bank Holiday Monday, saw over 170 children and their families don their best fancy dress outfits at Saltwell Park in Gateshead to raise over £4,000.

Eight-year-old Amelie Burns, of Consett, who lives with a rare brain condition that affects her speech and movement, led the walk.

Her mum, Kayley Burns, said: “I think the hydrotherapy is much-needed and I would encourage people to donate to the Footprints Appeal if they can.

“Ams loves her physiotherapy sessions at Heel and Toe they have flashing lights, massage and also has taken steps with support which is amazing.”

Heel and Toe Children’s Charity, which is based in Pelton, is the only charity in the region to provide free conductive therapy to hundreds of children with cerebral palsy and receives no government funding, so relies on support from the local community.

The building is currently being transformed from its current derelict condition to a state-of-the art venue, enabling the charity to extend its range of services.

Jane Long, development executive at Heel and Toe who helped organise the Children’s Walk, said: “These pools improve the quality of life so much for children like Amelie.

“There are only two of them in the North-East at the moment and they are in very high demand.

“Once we have the new one up and running it will be a game changer for people across our region who need access to that sort of therapy.”