Mum plans centre for children like her Ben

Fran Anker and her son Ben
Fran Anker and her son Ben

A mum who chose to give her severely disabled son life instead of having an abortion is hoping to set up a centre for children with special needs.

Fran Anker is currently raising funds to set up a Rest Stop in either Kenilworth, where she lives, or somewhere nearby which will cater for youngsters like her four-year-old son Ben.

The centre would be fully wheelchair accessible and would welcome all families regardless if they are affected by disability or not.

Fran said: “As well as offering support and counselling services we intend to have a fully wheelchair adapted play area with sensory zones, music areas, clubs and much more.

“There will also be a café catering for all needs such as puree and dietary meals, a games room for the older kids, homework clubs, sibling support groups, day trips, a garden and a respite area providing small respite sessions for parents and carers of those with special needs.

When she was 21 weeks pregnant with Ben, Fran was told he would be born with a severe form of cerebral palsy which means he has limited eyesight and is mentally and physically disabled.

The doctors told Fran that Ben’s chances of survival were slim but she said she had already bonded with her unborn son and decided to continue with the pregnancy.

Up until recently Fran had been raising funds to pay for a £33,000 operation in China which would have helped Ben to increase his mobility and improve his conditions.

But his progress in the meantime has meant that the doctors in China believe he is now at the stage in his development which the operation would have brought about anyway.

He is now able to take aided steps and is starting to talk and communicate a lot better.

Fran said: “At first we were told he wasn’t going to survive and then he wasn’t going to walk so things have changed all the time.

“We’re over the moon - metnally he is still like a little baby and doesn’t understand things for him to be able to walk is just amazing - it’s something we kind’ve took for granted with his older brother but not this time.”

All of the money donated towards the operation has instead been used to aid Ben in his development.

He has had horse riding lessons to help strengthen his hips and legs and his family are considering sending him on a residential course of advanced biomechanical rehabilitation physiotherapy.

To support Fran’s campaign to set up The Rest Stop and to find out more about the project click here or to make a donation to help Ben visit