A NINE-YEAR-OLD boy who dreams of walking with his twin brother has taken his first steps....just a year after a life-changing operation.

Marcus McCarthy, of Kursaal Way, Southend, underwent a major spinal operation - dorsal rhizotomy - in his bid for more movement.

After being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, he has grown up using a walking frame.

Following 12 months of intensive physiotherapy, Marcus has ditched the frame and gone on a treadmill for the first time.

His proud mum, Scarlett, 30, said: “It has been a long but good year, Marcus has had to work the hardest. He has achieved so much in one year and yet still has a lot of work to do.

“It has been difficult for him, he has had to cope with his body changing but he is getting more confident.

“He has achieved walking with tripod crutches for the first time in his life and has also gone on a treadmill for the first time.

“This year has changed Marcus’ life, its not been easy and sometime it has not been fun but to be one year post-operation feels amazing and we are all so proud of both boys.”

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Ordeal - Marcus pictured before his operation

Since last October, Marcus has undergone another two operations - having his calf muscles cut and lengthened and botox in his higher hamstrings.

The youngster, who has a twin brother called Jacob, has also undergone a huge amount of physiotherapy from NHS Lighthouse and Kids Physio Works.

Mrs McCarthy said: “He still goes to the Royal London and Great Ormond Street on a monthly basis and is swimming everyday.

“He is half way through two years of therapy and the next goal is to move onto one pod crutches.”

In February, the Echo told how the family were trying to raise £23,000 for his physiotherapy through the Move a Mountain 4 Marcus appeal.

Echo: Big steps - Marcus underwent a major operation a year ago

Recovery - Marcus now

Mrs McCarthy added: “Our fundraising campaign has raised £10,000 in eight months from Southend residents, Marcus’ school, small businesses, family and friends.

“It is really amazing the support we have had to fund the physiotherapy, and this week the Leigh Round Table donated £300 towards a treadmill for Marcus to have at home, which will enable him to carry out a lot more physiotherapy.

“This campaign has been managed solely by me, Marcus’ dad Peter and nanny Tracy.

“I have done this as well as working, raising a family and keeping up with therapy and hospital appointments.

“Just4Children charity have been amazing support - they have helped publicise fundraising events and manage the funds for us.”

Mrs McCarthy said the challenge now is striking a balance between Marcus’ studies at Sacred Heart Primary School, in Windermere Road, Southend, and his medical appointments.

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/moveamountain4Marcus