A YOUNGSTER suffering from a rare heart problem has inspired her auntie to take part in a charity Santa run.

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Sarah Payne, of Langstons, Trimley St Mary, is taking part in the Ipswich Santa Run in aid of East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH) as a thank you for the care the charity has given her niece, Tilly Jennings.

Seven-year-old Tilly – who lives with her mum Jeanette, dad Richard, and sisters Brooke, 13, and Marni, four, in Felixstowe - was diagnosed with Ebstein’s Anomaly, a rare congenital malformation of the heart, when she was only 12 hours old.

The Jennings family have used EACH services since Tilly was four months including day care, family support sessions, advice and help from the symptom management team, sibling support for Brooke and Marni, and trips and days out.

Sarah said: “I want to encourage as many people as possible to take part in this year’s Santa Run to raise funds for EACH because of the amazing care and support they give to my family and many others across Suffolk.

“Tilly had major heart surgery in September and we weren’t sure if she was going to make it through.

“Staff from EACH were there to help all of us, and thankfully she got better.

“I promised Tilly I’d give up smoking after her operation and I have. It’s tough, but it’s nothing compared to what Tilly has gone through.

“Support from EACH nurses meant Tilly was able to go home sooner, and it has really helped her recovery. Tilly’s like me, a home bird, and being in her own surroundings with support from EACH nurses, rather than being in hospital really did make all the difference.”

■ The Ipswich Santa Run on Sunday, December 9, sponsored by Ramada Encore hotel, and starts at 10.30am at Ipswich Town Hall.

Entry is £10 for adults including a Santa Suit or £8 without a suit while children (aged 13 and under) are £5 including Santa Hat.

To sign up online visit www.each.org/santaruns call 01473 237243.

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