A family is hoping people will dig deep to help get their brave little girl moving.
Full-time carer Dionne Pickersgill, 28, and removal man Stephen Fountain, 30, were told their daughter Millie would be born with a cleft lip and palate at their 20 week scan.
At three-months-old, Millie underwent a procedure to repair her lip, and then further surgery to her palate at six-months, with special squeezer bottles used to help her feed as she struggled to suck.
But as she reached nine-months-old, the Thorney Close couple realised she wasn’t progressing as well as she should, with doctors concluding she has delayed development, leaving her unable to talk and in need of a walker.
To help with her independence, the five-year-old’s family are raising £4,000 for a garden revamp - with the halfway mark of the appeal already reached thanks to her loved ones’ help.
The work will be carried out at cost by Fence Houses-based Brandnewwalls Drives and Patios and will feature a special surface to keep Millie, who also has epilepsy, safe.
It is very important for us to do this and keep Allan’s memory alive.Maureen Thompson
As well as enjoying playing outdoors, the Sunningdale School pupil loves Cbeebies shows including Mr Tumble, and is learning to communicate using Makaton signs and symbols.
Her family’s project is being backed by family friend Maureen Thompson, 61, whose fundraises in memory of husband Allan, 43, who died in 2000 after the Ryhope CW Football Club manager lost his battle against leukaemia.
Dionne said: “We said it would be great if we had some help with the back garden.
“Our garden is grassed and uneven and the only way she can go there is to be carried and she stuck in one spot.
“This will make a massive difference.”
Granmother Maureen, who is mum to Mark, 34, and Laura, 34, said: “It is very important for us to do this and keep Allan’s memory alive.
“We used to do it for the hospital, but he said we should do it for children and that was his wish.”
Her entertainment night will be held at the Alexandra, in Queen Alexandra Road, tomorrow from 7pm and with admission £6.
It will feature singer Mea Dean, raffle and a DJ.
Donations to Millie’s fund can be made via https://www.gofundme.com/millie-moo-garden-fund.