Readers’ help brings teen a step closer to first walk

The Oxford Times: The Wykeham Singers at New College Chapel with Gabriel Masih-Gill and his parents Samuel and Paula, his brother Lucien, four, and his grandmother Marilyn Cullen The Wykeham Singers at New College Chapel with Gabriel Masih-Gill and his parents Samuel and Paula, his brother Lucien, four, and his grandmother Marilyn Cullen

A TEENAGER is a step closer to his dream of being able to walk thanks to the generosity of community groups and Oxford Mail readers.

Gabriel Masih-Gill, who has cerebral palsy and relies on a wheelchair, is hoping to undergo a life-changing operation that will help him walk unaided for the first time.

The 14-year-old’s family have to raise £58,000 in total for the selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) operation at a hospital in Missouri, in the United States.

His story was first featured in the Oxford Mail in September. Since then they have raised more than £8,500.

Gabriel said: “We are getting there. It is really good.”

His mum, Paula Masih-Gill, of Stowford Road, Headington, said: “We are overwhelmed by everybody’s support , for their time and effort. It is just amazing.”

She said she had been approached by people following the publication of Gabriel’s story in the Oxford Mail, with a number of anonymous donations made on their fundraising website.

She said: “The Oxford Mail has been fantastic for us. It has been our best source of advertising. It has helped us lots.”

Mrs Masih-Gill, who lives with Gabriel, her husband Samuel, 42, and Gabriel’s brother Lucien, four, is working with the Tree of Hope charity to raise the cash.

Gabriel – a pupil at the Ormerod Resource base at the Marlborough School, in Woodstock – has previously had major operations on his hips and knees at Oxford Children’s Hospital.

But the SDR operation will help him to walk properly for the first time.

Mrs Masih-Gill said: “The operation will help him walk and he will have an independent life. At the moment I have to do everything for him.”

Mrs Masih-Gill, cousin Sammy Webster-Moore, brother-in-law Richard Gibbs and friends Duane Street-Webster and David Clarke raised £2,500 by taking part in a sponsored skydive in October. The total was bolstered by New College’s Wykeham Singers, who held a lunchtime concert at their college chapel earlier this month to support the campaign.

The concert, organised by Gabriel’s grandmother Marilyn Cullen, who works at the college, raised £357.74.

Singer and New College employee Nigel Ewers, 50, from North Oxford, said: “I hope it has inspired others to either raise money or just to think about others who are less fortunate.

“It was very moving and Gabriel really enjoyed it.”

The choir plans to hold more fundraising concerts.

Donations can be made online at justgiving.com/Paula-Masih-Gill1 or by texting XXTW48 followed by the amount to 70070.

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