AN OAKWORTH toddler who needs surgery to enable her to walk has received the “best Christmas present ever”.

Nicole Vendettuoli’s parents have been told the vital operation is available on the NHS.

This means that the £35,000 already raised by kind-hearted Keighley people to send Nicole abroad can instead be spent on crucial physiotherapy.

Two-year-old Nicole’s parents Candice and Tom this week called a halt to fundraising because they have raised enough for what they currently need. Events already planned will still go ahead.

Mrs Vendettuoli said the Nicole’s Wish to Walk campaign had so far raised half of the £70,000 originally earmarked for treatment in the USA and follow-up therapy.

She said: “We will need the £35,000, but we don’t want to raise any more for the sake of it.

“Nicole will have six months of intensive physiotherapy. This is really crucial for the operation to work, otherwise it’s pointless.

“Some of the funds we’ve been raising will be for private physio. She will also need all sorts of equipment, like walking frames, splints and a treadmill.”

An overjoyed Mrs Vendettuoli this week, paid tribute to everybody who had raised money for Nicole over the past few months.

These included the Old Registry restaurant in Haworth, Sainsburys accordion player Derek Steele and singer Gareth Gates.

Mrs Vendettuoli said: “It’s been absolutely amazing how many people have come forward to help. They’re fulfilling Nicola’s ‘Wish to Walk’. It makes me so proud to be part of this region.”

Nicole’s neurosurgeon this month told her parents that the operation she needs, selective dorsal rhizotomy, had recently been made available on the NHS

Mrs Vendettuoli said: “It gives us hope and such relief to know. It’s the best Christmas present ever.”

The NHS does not fund the rhizotomy operation for everyone, and Nicole’s parents do not yet know for certain whether their daughter will be eligible.

Mrs Vendettuoli said: “We have to apply for it when she is three years old.”

If Nicole is turned down for NHS treatment, the £35,000 already raised will pay for private treatment, and the family will embark on a second round of fundraising.

Nicole was born three months premature and had a brain hemorrhage, which led to her suffering cerebral palsy. Her left arm and both her legs are stiff, making sitting, crawling and walking impossible.

The operation will involve surgeons cutting some of Nicole’s nerves, releasing the stiffness and allowing her muscles to develop properly as she grows.

Mrs Vendettuoli said the operation would effectively give Nicole “a brand-new pair of legs”.