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Sunderland grandmother's double fundraising mission after granddaughter suffers rare condition and husband dies aged 46

A grandmother who has raised £20,000 over three years for a Sunderland hospice following the death of her husband is now on another fundraising mission inspired by her granddaughter.

Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 7:49 am

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Debbie Lewis Atwill, 53, has set out to raise funds for St Benedicts Hospice in Ryhope following the death of her husband Lee who died from small cell lung cancer aged just 46 and the Spinal Muscular Atrophy charity after her granddaughter was diagnosed with the rare condition last year.

Baby Dolcie Walls Atwill was diagnosed with type 1 spinal muscular atrophy, a severe medical condition that makes the muscles weaker and causes problems with movement at six months old.

Most babies with type 1 SMA die during the first few years of life due to breathing difficulties but little Dolcie was the third baby in the UK to receive a £1.8 million life-saving treatment.

Debbie is raising money for her late husband Lee and her granddaughter Dolcie.

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After recovering well, her grandmother Debbie has now launched the fundraiser to raise money throughout the year for both the Spinal Muscular Atrophy charity and St Benedicts hospice.

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Debbie’s husband Lee sadly passed away in 2018 aged 46 after being diagnosed with small cell lung cancer.

But since then, the grandmother has raised £20,000 for the Ryhope hospice to give back to the palliative care team who supported Lee in his final days.

Dolcie was the third baby in the UK to receive the £1.8 million treatment on the NHS.

She said: “I started fundraising for St Benedicts because that’s what Lee asked, he called the palliative care team his ‘secret angels’ because they were so incredible.

"We started the Captain Skinvincibles Adventures which is a doll I bought in Blackpool for Lee and he travels across the world to raise money and to continue Lee’s life – the Captain has even been to the Great Wall of China!”

Debbie, from Houghton, runs a weekly number draw which raises £150 each week to add to the funds and is set to host a charity night later in September.

Another doll, representing Dolcie has also been bought to join Captain Skinvincibles on his adventures.

Two dolls representing Debbie's late husband Lee and granddaughter Dolcie will travel the world in aid of charity.

She added: “I wanted to help raise money for both charities because they’re both so important to me, Lee never got the chance to meet Dolcie but he would have loved her.”

You can donate to Debbie’s charity fund here.

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