Dream holiday for schoolboy with cerebral palsy

Sheree Stirling hopes the holiday will build P-Jay's confidence as it did for her. Picture: SWNS
Sheree Stirling hopes the holiday will build P-Jay's confidence as it did for her. Picture: SWNS
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A boy with cerebral palsy will follow in his mum’s footsteps after he was chosen by a charity to go on a morale-boosting holiday to Florida.

P-Jay Stirling, 11, will visit Disneyland and Universal Studios and be looked after by the same carer who accompanied his mother to the USA.

His mother Sheree took the exact same trip 19 years ago after being selected by the Dreamflight charity.

The charity provides dream holidays for children who have serious illnesses or disabilities.

P-Jay and Sheree from Musselburgh, East Lothian, are the first parent and child to both go on trips organised by the charity.

As a toddler Sheree suffered terrible burns in an accident and became the target of bullies at school.

She said: “I’m badly burned down one side and I was getting verbally bullied at school.

“It knocked my confidence. But I was amazed to learn I was going to Orlando.

“It was just phenomenal and it made me see I was really no different from anyone else.

“My peers at the time made me feel I was the odd one out. But going away from home really built up my self-esteem.

“It was a magical experience and it did so much for me.”

Her son P-Jay, 11, will fly out from Heathrow on a specially chartered BA Boeing 747 on October 14.

Susan Smyth, the Dreamflight carer who accompanied Sheree in 1998, will also be at P-Jay’s side, as his group leader. His itinerary will include visits to Walt Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, the Islands of Adventure and SeaWorld.

P-Jay has spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, which causes stiffness and weakness on his right-hand side, but he is still very active, and enjoys football and trampolining.

At primary school he has taken part in such sports as table tennis, swimming and wheelchair basketball. Sheree, 32, added: “I was nominated by a hospital doctor.

“I wasn’t sure at first about leaving home for the first time to go to Orlando.

“But I heard more about it and started to feel excited to be one of 192 special children who had been given this amazing opportunity.

“I still have a fantastic relationship with Susan Smyth and it is amazing that she will be P-Jay’s group leader.

“It was P-Jay’s physiotherapist who nominated him for the holiday.

“For the last year he has been slightly withdrawn and has not been taking part in all the school activities he used to.

“It turns out he has been bullied as well. That brought back a lot of memories for me that were not very nice.

“Now P-Jay is going to experience the same magic as I experienced in 1998 and I hope it changes his life the same way as it changed mine.

“I learned that the bullies would not defeat me and that I would succeed. P-Jay has the same determination as I had when I was younger.

“Dreamflight works hard for all the kids. It is first-class all the way and they make their holidays special.”