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Appeal launched to raise money for minibus deposit
HEATHER Morrison was a bright baby and toddler who impressed doting relatives with her single-minded determination.
She learned to walk before nine months and had such “incredible” ball skills, her proud grandmother believed she could go on to become a sportswoman.
But then her speech failed to develop as expected – and when she was four, her family was given the devastating news that Heather had a rare, incurable brain condition.
Heather, of Dringhouses, was diagnosed with late infantile Batten disease, a fatal, regressive genetic condition which only affects 200 children in the UK and means Heather, now six, cannot walk, eat or communicate and is losing her sight.
Because Heather, a pupil at Hob Moor Oaks school, cannot sit up and is becoming heavier, she can no longer travel in the family car.
Her family has launched an appeal for a £2,000 deposit on a minibus, which will make it easier for her to be transported and to join her family on days out.
Grandma Jan Gamble said: “Batten disease is such a cruel condition because children affected by it start to develop as other children do, then regress as the condition takes its hold. Heather was a really single-minded two-year-old. She now has no mobility, no speech, limited communication and suffers from epilepsy. We are sure she is just as determined as she was when she was two though.
“She was unbelievably quick as a baby. She was walking on her own before nine months. She had such incredible ball skills I honestly thought she could become a rugby player.
“When she was three-and-a-half she fell over and she didn’t look quite right and by that time we were beginning to worry; her speech hadn’t come along. On the November before she turned five, she was diagnosed with Batten disease.
“To say we were devastated is an understatement but you have got to get on with things.”
Hob Moor Oaks pupil Heather’s parents, Becky and Brian Morrison, of Highmoor Close, and Jan have been reluctant to ask for help but said they would really benefit from raising the deposit on the vehicle to enable a monthly payment programme.
Jan, who lives in Acomb, said: “Someone told me an African proverb a few months ago – ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ and something just clicked inside me.
“That’s when I started to think about asking the community for help. We don’t know how much time the family have with Heather, but we all want to give her the best life we can with days out and being able to take her to school.” Batten’s disease, which is caused by a missing enzyme, affects one in 30,000 births.
Both parents need to be carriers of the disease in order for it to be inherited.
Becky and Brian have three other daughters, none of whom has the condition.
A fundraising concert featuring local singer Ian Collins is being held at Acomb Working Men’s Club from 7pm on November 30.
If you can provide a raffle prize for the evening or would like to donate money or hold a fundraising event, phone Jan on 07999 479164.