Brave Gresham youngster Angelina Mills overcomes rare Sturge-Weber syndrome to enjoy first day at nursery school

A brave north Norfolk youngster who was born with a rare brain disorder has enjoyed her first day at nursery school - a milestone her parents never thought she would see.

Little Angelina Mills, from Gresham, joined other toddlers at the Strawberry Patch Nursery for her first full afternoon session today, and was quickly enjoying herself in the sandpit and making new friends.

The two-year-old suffers from Sturge-Weber syndrome, a neurological condition which has left her with epilepsy, learning delay, bodily weakness and a port wine stain on her face.

But after undergoing pioneering surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital the tot has battled to overcome the complications of her condition and her daily seizures, and will now be spending five hours a week at the Hempstead nursery with a one to one support teacher.

Her mum Lisa Massingham, 36, said: 'She's loving it and exploring like you wouldn't believe. We go from table to table and she's also copying the other children, which is great.


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'This is a great milestone and fantastic achievement for her and something that me and Stephen (her dad) didn't think we would see.

'It's just wonderful.'

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Staff at the nursery are now looking forward to working with the youngster and helping her develop.

Sue Daniels, manager, said: 'We'll find out what she likes to do and build on that for her learning.

'To watch the children progress is an amazing thing, especially with Angelina. It's nice she's being included in the mainstream and she's one of us now, she's part of Strawberry Patch.'

In June 2010 Angelina underwent the delicate operation in which surgeons disconnected the outer layer of the affected right half of her brain. The right hemisphere still fits but nothing is now able to transfer to the left, and she has not suffered any visual seizures for more than a year.

She has also been able to come off some of her anti-convulsion medication, which she has been taking since she was just 18-weeks-old.

Ms Massingham thought the surgery had made all the difference to her daughter's development and believes Angelina's learning would now come on leaps and bounds through her time at the Strawberry Patch.

The mum, who also has two sons Luca, 11, and Stefan, nine, added: 'Had she not had that surgery we wouldn't have seen any development; the standing, the walking. She's now very good at matching and got a concentration level to sit and turn a book page by page.

'Before the personality was gone, her identity wasn't there. Now we have been able to counteract (the epilepsy) she has a better quality of life.'

? Ms Massingham has recently been appointed as a trustee of the Sturge-Weber Foundation, a support charity that helps children, adults and families affected by the condition. For more information about the group visit www.sturgeweber.org.uk

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