Masquerade ball will be a thank you from mum

A GRATEFUL mum is staging a masquerade ball as a thank you to medical experts who are helping her little girl to cope with a range of complex, life-limiting problems.

Leeanne Abbotts has been making weekly trips to London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital since September to monitor and control her daughter Willow’s serious and rare digestive problems.

Little Willow, now 21 months, has been in and out of hospital since she was just days old in a bid to tackle the condition which means food is not emptied from her stomach and is left there to rot.

And it is not just the medical expertise for which Mrs Abbotts is grateful, she also wants to raise money for the charity which pays for the family to stay over, shouldering some of the financial burden of having a chronically ill child.

Mrs Abbotts, 35, said she had been overwhelmed by the response so far, having sold 125 of the 160 tickets to the ball which will be staged at the seafront Masonic Lodge on July 29.

Some local businesses had really come up trumps, such as Global Travel, which had raised over �200 by simply donating a few pence from each holiday booking. The Cliff Hotel at Gorleston had also rallied to the cause, donating a meal and overnight stay for four people which will be among auction lots going under the hammer on the night.

Meanwhile, for companies whose line of business means they have little to offer in the way of prizes or lots, there is an opportunity to promote themselves on a big screen for �20 – all of which will go to the charities being supported.

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Mrs Abbotts, an employer liaison officer at Great Yarmouth College, said she could not thank Great Ormond Street Hospital enough and that although it was outside the Yarmouth area around 40 local children went there for treatment last year.

“It’s really hard,” she said, “because a lot of our family and friends do not see what we go through because most of it is at night. Willow looks fine but she will wake at 2am screaming in pain and vomiting and it’s not easy to calm her down.”

Willow attends the Yarmouth College nursery but will have to find alternative provision when it shuts. Life pretty much revolves around her illness and the battle to deliver nutrition to her body and maintain her weight.

She suffers from a range of related conditions because of her illness, with new ones being identified all the time. The long-term prognosis is uncertain but it is hoped something will trigger the stomach muscles into action – either autonomously or with the help of a pacemaker which at present is only fitted to adults.

The family, including Lowestoft policeman Winston Abbotts and little sister Daisy, four, have pledged to split the proceeds between GOSH and The Sick Children’s Trust.

l Tickets, which include a three-course meal and entertainment from the Lee Vasey Band, are priced �35 and are available via 01493 300317. Auction lots, raffle prizes and someone to preside over the auction are still needed. For more information contact masqueradeballinfo@gmail.com. A Facebook page called Masquerade Charity Ball has also been set up.