‘Inspirational’ brain injury boy, 12, raises £16,000 to save activity centre

A 12-year-old boy who suffered a “catastrophic” brain injury has raised more than £16,000 to help save the charity that “changed his life”.

Oliver Voysey is undertaking a series of 13-themed challenges in the run-up to his birthday in a bid to raise money for Calvert Lakes, an outdoor activity centre in the Lake District for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

The charity in Keswick is facing permanent closure after losing more than £1 million in income in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Oliver’s mother, Sarah, said the family would be “devastated” if the centre was forced to close and they have launched Oliver’s Calvert Army to raise funds.

She said: “Oliver’s biggest birthday wish is for the Lake District Calvert Trust to survive. Forget cards or presents, he just wants to return to his favourite place in the world.”

Oliver suffered a brain injury when he was two days old, which left him with sight loss, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism and learning difficulties. He requires specialist care daily and additional support.

“Throughout his life, we have fought to show him that anything is possible and that we will do all we can to help him rehabilitate,” said Ms Voysey.

“The Lake District Calvert Trust has helped us to do this.

“They really do make disability just a word. They have given Oliver experiences we didn’t think were achievable. His confidence has soared doing canoeing, abseiling, rock climbing, cycling, ghyll scrambling, sailing, assault courses, horse riding and fell climbing. Nothing is impossible at Calvert.”

She said the psychological impact on Oliver has been “amazing”, as the family have seen him go from “strength to strength” with the support of the centre.

Oliver, who turns 13 on January 30, regularly travelled from his home in Newcastle – where he also plays for Newcastle United’s children’s frame football team – to Calvert Lakes prior to its closure last year.

His fundraising challenges include walking on a treadmill for 13 minutes, standing independently for 13 seconds, and completing a 13-minute walk. He will be supported by his family, as they complete their own set of challenges.

The family appeared on ITV’s This Morning on Thursday, winning an additional £3,000 for the online appeal, which has now topped £13,000.

Today is another big day for our Emergency Bounce Back Appeal with the launch of Oliver’s Calvert Army! Please RT and support if you can #oliverscalvertarmy#CalvertLakesBounceBackhttps://t.co/UJaBjMStc5

— Calvert Lakes (@CalvertLakes) January 18, 2021

Jennifer Scott, fundraising manager at the Lake District Calvert Trust said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the incredible response to our Emergency Bounce Back Appeal — but we still have a mountain to climb. The Covid-19 pandemic has left a huge, one-million-pound gap in our income.

“Oliver is an inspirational young man and we are so thankful to him and his family for their support.

“We are urging everyone to join Oliver’s Calvert Army through supporting Oliver or by taking on their own fundraising challenge.”

– Donations to Oliver’s appeal can be made at https://www.gofundme.com/f/olivers-calvert-army