Brave Angelina enjoys her first birthday

Tracey GrayIt was a day her family thought they would have to spend in hospital while their daughter was undergoing a life-altering operation.But instead, Angelina Mills was able to celebrate her first birthday like any other child with a family party.Tracey Gray

It was a day her family thought they would have to spend in hospital while their daughter was undergoing a life-altering operation.

But instead, Angelina Mills was able to celebrate her first birthday like any other child with a family party.

Gresham youngster Angelina was born with Sturge Weber syndrome, a rare and incurable neurological disorder which can cause learning disabilities, seizures and vision problems.

The condition means Angelina, who has a large birthmark on her face, has limited use of her left arm and is unable to sit up unaided.


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She is due to have brain surgery at London's Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, in a bid to stop the seizures and improve her quality of life.

Her parents, Stephen Mills and Lisa Massingham, who live at Gresham near Cromer, gave the go-ahead for the operation at the end of February, and as there is an eight-week waiting list, they thought there was a chance Angelina would be in hospital or recovering from the operation on her birthday, June 2.

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But after being given a date of June 24 for the operation, they set about organising a pink princess themed birthday party, which took place at the Elephant Playbarn in Knapton for her birthday, yesterday.

Lisa said: "I wanted to make this a very special birthday for her. I pray that we are going to have a lot more birthdays with her, but there is a chance there could be complications with the operation. I wanted to get as many pictures and videos at the party as possible and make it a day to remember."

Helping Angelina mark her birth-day were her sister Jodie, brothers, Luca, nine, and Stefan, seven, and a host of family and friends.

As well as being able to splash about in the children's ball pool with her mum and dad, Angelina, dressed in a pink and white birthday outfit, was also presented with a hand-made cake.

Lisa said the operation, which could result in Angelina losing all mobility in her left arm, should take about a week to recover from, for two days of which she will be in intensive care. When she has recovered, she will then start speech and occupational therapy sessions at the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, and will be in rehabilitation for two to five years.

Friends and family have taken part in and organised a wide range of fundraising events raising money for Great Ormond Street.

The latest event, a fundraiser held at the Dunstable Arms in Shering-ham, on Sunday, which included a raffle, live music and an auction, raised �3,000, including �600 from a charity chest wax.

Lisa said they wanted to thank everyone involved who had helped make it such a success. So far they have managed to raise nearly �7,000 for the hospital; their target is �10,000.

A separate fund has also been started specifically for Angelina to help buy equipment for a sensory room for the youngster.

To make a donation to either cause, call Lisa on 07771 974518 or email massinghamlisa@yahoo.com.

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