Christmas joy for miracle boy Finley thanks to Facebook fish group

Finley Archer-Dawson with his fish tank that was donated by Darius Lapinskas

Finley Archer-Dawson with his fish tank that was donated by Darius Lapinskas from the Norfolk African Cichlid Facebook group - Credit: Danielle Booden

Finley Archer-Dawson's parents call him "a little miracle".

When he was born he had to be resuscitated but promptly defied doctors expectations following a cerebral palsy diagnosis.

And three-year-old Finley, from New Road in Hethersett, who also has global developmental delay, impaired vision and epilepsy among other health issues, is smiling this Christmas thanks to the generosity of the tropical fish enthusiast community.

Finley Archer-Dawson, from Hethersett, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he was born in March 2018

Finley Archer-Dawson, from Hethersett, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after he was born in March 2018 - Credit: Hollie Archer

The happy youngster, who loves nothing more than watching fish, was nominated by his grandmother Sam Furlong, from Hethersett, after the founder of the 565-strong Norfolk African Cichlid Facebook group wanted to donate a tank to someone deserving.

Finley's mum, Hollie Archer, 28, who also has a 10-month-old daughter, said: "Finley cannot talk but he really likes colourful fish. They make him happy. He laughs a lot when he sees them.

"It is very calming for him because he goes to a lot of medical appointments. He has sensory issues so things can feel too much for him.

"It meant a lot to us to get the tank because there is a lot Finley misses out on things many three-year-olds do. The tank and fish is something that can bring him enjoyment. We are very grateful."

Finley Archer-Dawson, three, who loves fish and books

Finley Archer-Dawson, three, who loves fish and books - Credit: Hollie Archer

Most Read

Her mum, who nominated Finley, has had fish for a year and is part of the Facebook group which was set up in 2020 by fish tank seller and fellow enthusiast Darius Lapinskag, 37, from the Larkman area of Norwich. 

Finley Archer-Dawson's with his fish tank that was donated by Darius Lapinskag (right)

Finley Archer-Dawson's with his fish tank that was donated by Darius Lapinskas (right) from the Norfolk African Cichlid Facebook group - Credit: Danielle Booden

Members of the group donated fish and other items for the tank.

Mr Lapinskag said: "I wanted to do something nice for Christmas. You cannot always take. You have to give sometimes."

Finley was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on March 31, 2018, at 31 weeks through caesarean section weighing just 3lb 2oz.

Finley Archer-Dawson after he was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on March 31, 2018

Finley Archer-Dawson after he was born at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on March 31, 2018 - Credit: Hollie Archer

After birth complications, the newborn had no heart beat for the first 22 minutes of his life.

He spent the first nine weeks on the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and his parents were told he would struggle to walk and talk.

Finley Archer-Dawson after he was born in March 2018

Finley Archer-Dawson after he was born in March 2018 - Credit: Hollie Archer

But during the first Covid lockdown in 2020, the book-loving three-year-old took his first steps.

"It has been really difficult but he has proved the doctors wrong. They are surprised by what he is doing. He is so strong," Miss Archer said.

Top tips on looking after fish

 Darius Lapinskas, from Norfolk African Cichlid Facebook group

Darius Lapinskas, from the Norfolk African Cichlid Facebook group, with the tank that he has donated to Finley Archer-Dawson. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Darius Lapinskag, who runs DT Aquatics, has given some top tips on where to start when looking into caring for fish.

1 - You have to decide what kind of fish you want.

2 - Decide on how big a tank you can afford.

3 - Do really good research.

4 - Decide on what features you want in your tank.

5 - Don't rush and take your time to get it right.