A LITTLE girl from Otterbourne is closer than ever to a life-changing operation that will help her to walk on her own for the first time.

Five-year-old Jemima Syvret, of Norlands Drive, saw family and friends gather to raise a staggering £52,000 at a Beatrix Potter-themed ball on Saturday (February 1).

Jemima’s parents, Jo and Andrew, have battled for months to try and raise £90,000 to pay for Jemima’s spinal operation in the US, as well as intense physiotherapy and hydrotherapy, which should see her eventually walk unaided.

The family has seen no end of generosity from members of the public while they’ve worked hard to raise the funds.

Brother Oli ran a triathlon in October raising £1,500, mum Jo made footstep bracelets and dad Andrew rowed around the Isle of Wight with friends doubling their target raising over £40,000 all in a bid to get Jemima her selective dorsal rhizotomy that will take place at the St Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri.

After the Hampshire Chronicle first reported the Hiltingbury Infant School pupil’s story, the Barker-Mill Foundation stepped forward and donated £10,000 to her cause and, more recently, Hampshire car retailers Hendy Ford donated a Fiesta Zetec to be auctioned.

Now, after the donation of thousands from charitable friends at Saturday’s ball, Jemima has finally been given her surgery date of March 18.

The event was held at the Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton and was hosted by former Saints player Nicky Banger, who Jo said did a wonderful job entertaining the guests.

“Nicky Banger for an excellent job of compere,” she said. “The evening went as well as we could have ever hoped for.

“A highlight was when Tom Mann, 2013 X factor contestant, sang to Jemima a cover of just the way you are by Bruno Mars.

“The auction went very well and the car fetched £12,000. Our comedy item was a skip which reached £4,000!

“We would like to thank our sponsors Hendy Ford, BDO and Blake Lapthorn for supporting our event.”