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Girls with only half a brain on quest to help charity

PUBLISHED: 10:52 25 July 2020 | UPDATED: 10:52 25 July 2020

Angelina Mills, now 11, from Gresham in north Norfolk, is undertaking a charity walk to raise money for Sturge Weber UK. Picture: Supplied by Lisa Massingham

Angelina Mills, now 11, from Gresham in north Norfolk, is undertaking a charity walk to raise money for Sturge Weber UK. Picture: Supplied by Lisa Massingham

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Having only half a brain is no barrier to helping to change the world for the better, as a brave 11 year-old girl is proving.

Angelina Mills, now 11, seated, and Caity Downs, now 19, on Brighton Pier in August 2018. Picture: Supplied by Lisa MassinghamAngelina Mills, now 11, seated, and Caity Downs, now 19, on Brighton Pier in August 2018. Picture: Supplied by Lisa Massingham

Angelina Mills, from Gresham in north Norfolk, is walking 198 miles over the course of 10 weeks to raise money for Sturge Weber UK.

The charity supports Angelina and her family and others with Sturge Weber syndrome - a rare condition that triggers life-threatening epileptic seizures.

Angelina’s mum, Lisa Massingham, said the distance had a special meaning. She said: “It’s the distance between Norfolk and Brighton, which is where another girl with the same condition, Caity Downs, who is 19, lives.

“The girls both had the same surgery to remove half their brains, called a hemispherectomy, with the same surgeon, William Harkness, at Great Ormond Street, but years apart.

Angelina Mills 30 minutes after a seven-hour operation to disconnect the right-hand side of her brain. Picture: SUBMITTEDAngelina Mills 30 minutes after a seven-hour operation to disconnect the right-hand side of her brain. Picture: SUBMITTED

“The girls have been friendly ever since they were little, but because they can’t see each other this year because of Covid-19 they wanted to do something together, so they’re both walking the distance, around the area where they each live.”

The girls have so far covered more than 25 miles between them, despite their condition meaning they have severe weakness around their ankles, as well as problems with motor skills. They both also have hemianopia, meaning they can only see from one eye.

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Angelina and Caity both wear a device called an ankle-foot othosis to support their limb.

Angelina Mills, now 11, from Gresham in north Norfolk, is undertaking a charity walk to raise money for Sturge Weber UK. Picture: Supplied by Lisa MassinghamAngelina Mills, now 11, from Gresham in north Norfolk, is undertaking a charity walk to raise money for Sturge Weber UK. Picture: Supplied by Lisa Massingham

Ms Massingham said: “Angelina is doing lots of walks around Gresham and Sheringham seafront - she did 1.8 miles the other day which is the longest she’s walked in one go. It’s incredible for a little girl who couldn’t even walk two years ago.

“This is also building their confidence which is great - I’m amazed at how much support the public has given the girls.

“Every time somebody makes a donation it gives them so much determination because they are struggling - they’re not finding it easy.”

MORE: Unbelievable Angelina inspires family’s fundraising campaign

Caity and Angelina, who attends Sheringham Woodfields School, are using a mobile phone app to log their miles.

Angelina Mills, 11, from Gresham, and her mum Lisa Massingham, a Sturge Weber UK family weekend in October 2019. Picture: Supplied by Lisa MassinghamAngelina Mills, 11, from Gresham, and her mum Lisa Massingham, a Sturge Weber UK family weekend in October 2019. Picture: Supplied by Lisa Massingham

Ms Massingham said they had both also been diagnosed with autism, which stems from the social and communication difficulties caused by their condition.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com and search for Angelina’s and Caity’s 198 Mile Challenge.


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