Northern Ireland news

Tyrone child Billy Caldwell begins 150 mile trek to fund American epilepsy treatment

Billy Caldwell and his mother Charlotte with pupils at Castlederg High School who are supporting ‘Billy’s Cannabis Walk’
Gareth McKeown

A CO Tyrone child with life-threatening epilepsy is in "really high spirits" after starting a 150 mile walk to fund vital treatment in America.

Billy Caldwell (11) began his journey from his home town Castlederg yesterday morning, with the final destination the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast next Wednesday.

There, Billy and his mother Charlotte will meet Aidan Dawson, Interim Director of Specialist Hospitals and Women's Health at the Belfast Trust to discuss the child's treatment.

Last month, Billy returned home from Los Angeles after six months of cannabis oil treatment to control his life-threatening seizures.

The purpose of the charity walk to help fund Billy's care and make his case to the Department of Health, with the aim of receiving his treatment in the north on a full-time basis.

Billy Caldwell pictured in Drumquin yesterday on his charity walk

As part of the 150 mile journey, Billy will walk what he can with mother Charlotte pushing him in his buggy the rest of the way.

Speaking 14 miles into the trek on the way to Omagh, Charlotte said her son was in "really high spirits", spending just 15 minutes in the buggy and calling at schools along the way.

"It's been a tough one on Billy, but he's doing extremely well. He was just playing a wee game of football at Langfield Primary School, which was brilliant," she said.

"He's in really high spirits and the the response from people on the route has been really good. It has been fantastic to see all the messages from people and the calls. It's just overwhelming."

As part of the eight-day trek Billy and his mother will stop in towns and villages across the north, before reaching the Royal Victoria Hospital.

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