Fundraising Gala for Dexter Summerscales-Heard

On the 10th November 2019 at The New Victoria Theatre in Woking, Surrey.


A local little boy from Woking, Dexter Summerscales-Heard, is just 4 years old but he has already had to overcome immense adversity. 


Dexter was born withquadriplegic CerebralPalsy, as a result to a concealed placental abruption on the 37thweek of pregnancy. His disabilities are considerable.  


Dexter suffers with epilepsy, is non-verbal and is also fully reliant on his wheelchair and family to assist his daily activities. Regardless of all of this, Dexter is intelligent and possesses the mental capabilities of any ‘normal’ boy of his age. He has an abundance of energy and great sense of humour and renowned as the class clown, as he always sees the funny-side of situations.  


Last February, Dexter was hospitalised, his immune system started to attack his brain whilst also contending with pneumonia.  His family endured the terrifying ordeal of Dexter being in a coma fighting for his life with hospital tests and surgical procedures to keep him alive.  Once he was discharged, he was still unable to return to his family home for a further three months whilst he received rehabilitative care.   Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the end of his resulting health complications. 


On 15thMarch, his family was presented with the devastating news that Dexter could no longer be allowed to eat orally. He shows no outward signs of any problems, but medical investigations revealed that his swallowing function was diverting food into his lungs, instead of him stomach – posing a critical threat of respiratory failure.  Doctors have said he could even drown in his own Saliva.


Dexter desperately wants to regain his ability to swallow, so that he can eat again… and there is a solution – a treatment called VitalStim designed to treat swallowing disorders through muscle re-education. 


Currently, NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines allow this treatment for NHS adult patients, but despite research NICE has not yet been approved it for use on children in the UK.  The only hope is to secure significant funding which will allow Dexter to travel to a specialist centre in the USA, called NAPA where he can undergo the treatment. 


Dexter’s Auntie, Laurretta Summerscales and her Husband Yonah Acosta, who are International Principal ballet dancers, wanted to help him so much as they saw the depression he felt from no longer being able to eat with everyone else.  They decided to organise a fundraising gala and were overwhelmed by the support from Principals and Soloists from the Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet and the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich, who all agreed to help and dance in aid of this special boy. We have also just heard that Wayne Sleep OBE has agreed to host the event. There has been so much support from the ballet industry which, not only is does it promise to be an amazing evening of talent and entertainment, rarely seen together in the UK, but it is all for such an important cause, which can get Dexter eating once more – something that he loves so much.


Dexter has already been accepted by NAPA and is on the waiting list for this Autumn’s sessions, or officially in the New Year for their next sessions, all we need now is the funds to send him there.

To buy tickets you can visit the website call on 08448717645.Fees apply. Calls cost up to 7p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge.


The Research

A 2019 report by The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto which studies the effects of NMES (Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation) on children aged 0-24 months, showed improved swallowing function in 100% of participants who completed the treatment during the research.  Five participants had no ability to orally feed at the start of the study and, of these, three achieved full oral feeding function and two partial function as a result of the treatment. 


Despite this data, NICE clinical guidelines for VitalStim are not scheduled for review until December 2021.