A popular two-year-old who suffers from an extremely rare condition could soon be on her way to Disneyland Paris, thanks to the kind-hearted efforts of staff at her local nursery.
April Benton, this year’s winner of the Mercury’s Cute Kids competition, became the ninth youngster in the world to be diagnosed with Bilateral Striatal Necrosis when she was struck down with a virus last year.
Uncertainty with how the neurological condition can be treated by doctors has had a devastating effect on the family of April.
“She has had a struggle for the past year – bless her,” said mum Sarah, of Rainbow Lane, Malton. “It has been very hard for everybody in our family.”
But support has been on hand from owner Marsha Turnbull and staff at Housemartins Day Care Centre in Malton who wanted to do something special for April, a regular at the nursery since she was a baby.
They decided to launch a £5,000 fundraising drive at the end of last year to treat April and her family to a holiday at Disneyland in Paris so she can meet Mickey Mouse and friends.
This weekend will see Vicky Allan and Julie Twamley take part in a three-day 140 mile cycling trip from York to Osmotherley - and back again - where they will tackle parts of the North York Moors, including the notoriously steep Sutton Bank.
The pair’s hope is to build on the £1,100 which has already been pledged and add it to the proceeds from other fundraisers, including £700 from Dianna Atkinson - Julie’s mum - who sold knitted chicks at Easter, bake-a-thons, and the staff members who completed the Total Warrior assault course challenge at Bramham Park, Leeds.
Further events, big and small, will continue throughout the coming months before ending with an appearance by Huge - The Ultimate Party Band at the Milton Rooms, Malton, on Friday, October 17.
Their efforts for April has moved Sarah, her family and friends.
“I honestly don’t know where we would be without the nursery and what they have done for April,” said Sarah. “There are only nine youngsters with the same condition and it was a very long diagnosis which was very difficult for all of us.
“We have to take each day as it comes.
But she added: The kindness and generosity of everyone at Housemartins has been absolutely amazing. April is a little girl who a lot of people have never met before and yet they are going out of their way to support us.
“Marsha and the staff have gone way above and beyond what you would expect from a children’s nursery - we are very grateful to them.”
*To sponsor Vicky and Julie or to donate to April’s fund, contact Housemartins, St Michael’s Street, Malton, on (01653) 692020. Tickets for Huge - The Ultimate Party Band can be bought from Housemartins or Smash Clothes Shop, Market Place, Malton.