Village rallies round to help Elizabeth, 8

HELPING HANDS: Elizabeth with her mum Sharon, right, and fundraiser Veronica, a teaching assistant at Elizabeth's school.
HELPING HANDS: Elizabeth with her mum Sharon, right, and fundraiser Veronica, a teaching assistant at Elizabeth's school.

Villagers are pulling out all the stops to raise thousands of pounds to help an eight-year-old girl who is having major spine surgery.

Elizabeth Hood, from Croft Lea in Little Waldingfield, will have an operation to straighten her back at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge later this year.

She has muscular dystrophy – a genetic disorder from birth – that causes her muscles to weaken.

Having outgrown her current wheelchair, she will need a bespoke one made for her after her operation.

So residents in Boxford, where Elizabeth goes to school, as well as friends and family from the village, have got together to organise a 1980s-themed disco at Boxford Village Hall on April 27.

Businesses in Sudbury, including department store Winch & Blatch and jewellers Angelo Smith, have put up prizes for an auction to be held on the night.

Elizabeth’s mother, Sharon, said she has been overwhelmed with the response to help Elizabeth get a new electric chair.

“I just happened to mention to a few people that we needed to get a wheelchair and, before I knew it, people were offering to help organise this event just for her,” she said.

“Veronica Hobbs from the village hall offered to help, and my friend Rebecca Bates has been sorting everything out.

“I am so grateful to all the people who are helping or who have offered to donate things – it’s been wonderful.”

Sharon says the family – dad Steve and daughter Charlotte, 13 – do not know when Elizabeth will have the operation which will help her to be able to sit up properly.

“She is leaning to one side, and this will straighten her spine,” she said. “She will have a growth rod put in her back which will mean they can lengthen it as she grows.

“It is a major operation and we have been told it will be in the next 10 months, so towards the end of the year. After she recovers, that’s when she will definitely need a new wheelchair.”

Sharon is hoping the money raised will help towards the £6,000 to £12,000 needed.

“Wheelchairs are just so expensive because they have to be made to fit the person,” she said. “It could cost anywhere up to £12,000 but it’s not something that you can purchase second-hand unfortunately.

“The thing is Elizabeth wants to go for dog walks but she can’t really do that at the moment because her wheelchair isn’t for off-road use, and of course she is just growing out of it.

“When Elizabeth was young, she had a wheelchair donated by children’s charity the Variety Club which was good.

“Her new wheelchair should last her six years.”

Prizes donated to the disco include a test drive at Brands Hatch, a spa day and Co-op voucher.

Elizabeth will make an appearance at the beginning of the evening, before being taken home by her grandparents Pat and Wally Carpenter, from Boxford Lane.

“She is very excited about it. We are very grateful for all the time and effort that people have put into this,” added Sharon.

q For tickets, call 07887 536279.