Whitstable boy with cerebral palsy and unknown disorder joins battle to keep Joy Lane swimming pool afloat


A courageous young boy with an unknown disorder and cerebral palsy is battling to save a school swimming pool which helped him keep fit during lockdown.

Going for a dip at Joy Lane Primary in Whitstable has helped make a “massive difference” to three-year-old Teddy Baker’s physical development.

Teddy Baker, who has an unknown disorder and cerebral palsy, with his mum Sarah Baker. Picture: Sarah Baker
Teddy Baker, who has an unknown disorder and cerebral palsy, with his mum Sarah Baker. Picture: Sarah Baker

KentOnline’s sister paper the Whitstable Gazette reported last month that school bosses are fighting to keep the pool afloat as maintenance costs continue to rise.

But Teddy loves being able to exercise freely in the water, according to his mum Sarah, who is a teacher at Joy Lane.

She told the Gazette that her son had developmental delays after he was born and at 18 months was unable to crawl properly.

Sarah, 37, said: “On his second birthday, he met the paediatrician and she said it was obviously cerebral palsy. But no one had indicated that.”

He was diagnosed with lower limb diplegia, which only affects his legs and impacts his ability to walk.

Teddy Baker has an unknown disorder and cerebral palsy - and is raising money for Joy Lane Swimming Pool. Picture: Sarah Baker
Teddy Baker has an unknown disorder and cerebral palsy – and is raising money for Joy Lane Swimming Pool. Picture: Sarah Baker

The boy, who goes to the nursery at Joy Lane, has splints that support his feet because they tend to curl up and not go flat.

But genetic testing was also performed on Teddy at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London and his parents waited a year for any results to come back.

“The MRI shows there is trauma to the brain, but it doesn’t fit in any disorder,” Mrs Baker added.

“It is cerebral palsy in his legs but they’re still looking into if there is a particular disorder.

“They have ruled out the main ones and it might be that he doesn’t fall into any category because in genetics there are thousands of mutations.

Teddy Baker, from Whitstable, was diagnosed with lower limb diplegia, which only affects his legs and impacts his ability to walk. Picture: Sarah Baker
Teddy Baker, from Whitstable, was diagnosed with lower limb diplegia, which only affects his legs and impacts his ability to walk. Picture: Sarah Baker

“We feel it may go down as an unknown disorder, but he is very happy.”

The coronavirus pandemic has meant Teddy has not been measured for a new pair of splints for “quite some time” after his old ones continuously cut his legs.

However, he is set get a new pair to strengthen his balance on October 20 – three days before he walks 100 steps unaided to raise money for the Joy Lane pool.

Mrs Baker added: “Luckily for Teddy because I work there and he was a key worker child.

“He was allowed to go in and use the pool with one of his nursery staff once a week for well over a year.

Teddy Baker, from Whitstable, has joined a battle to save Joy Lane swimming pool. Picture: Sarah Baker
Teddy Baker, from Whitstable, has joined a battle to save Joy Lane swimming pool. Picture: Sarah Baker

“It has made such a difference because he was able to do his exercise freely in the water and he loves it.”

The pool – which welcomes about 800 children for lessons each week – has been an “instrumental part of the Whitstable community” for the past 38 years, say school bosses.

Other than at Joy Lane, the nearest state school pool is more than 20 miles away.

But the cost of maintaining and running the site continues to rise, with bosses unable to continue subsidising it with school funds as budgets get tighter.

Teddy’s fundraiser for the pool can be accessed here.

Read more: All the latest news from Whitstable



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