A ray of Hope for 2009

WHAT a gorgeous ray of Hope!Bubbly and beautiful Hope Puttock is an inspiration to us all this New Year and a reminder that even in tough times there is always something to smile about.

Rebecca Lefort

WHAT a gorgeous ray of Hope!

Bubbly and beautiful Hope Puttock is an inspiration to us all this New Year and a reminder that even in tough times there is always something to smile about.

The youngster, who will turn two in March, needed open heart surgery after she was born and also has Down's Syndrome.

However against the odds she is thriving and is a constant source of joy for her large family, and the tight-knit community in Martlesham where Hope lives.

Today her devoted mum, Dee, 37, said: "She is doing brilliantly. She is clearly delayed in her development but she's doing really well.

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"She is wonderful and she has changed all our lives. She's a real ray of sunshine.

"She's got a very strong personality. She's fun and she makes us laugh!"

Her dramatic start in life had an influence on the little girl's name as her family were unsure whether she would survive.

Ms Puttock said: "We were going to call her Scarlet but she was at death's door and we didn't think she was going to make it. So we decided she was going to be called Hope because we still had hope."

Hope is the apple of her family's eye, including doting siblings, Mark, 22, Rhianna, 14, Megan, 11, Cara, ten and Paige, eight.

Paige is particularly affectionate, throwing her arms around her young sister and saying: "I love you!" before adding: "She's very beautiful and she's very cute."

But it hasn't all been easy for the family of Main Road in the village and Ms Puttock said Hope did face some stigma from people with prejudices about disability.

She added: "She's not mad, she just has learning difficulties and looks different. I think she looks like a little Eskimo.

"If someone treats her badly I will say something but on the whole people are really positive.

Ms Puttock, who cares full time for her youngest daughter, wants Hope to be able to go to the mainstream school that Cara and Paige attend, Martlesham's Beacon Hill Primary School, but will have to wait longer to learn if she develops quickly enough for that.

Meanwhile she added: "Everyone is worried about money but maybe there is a bit more to life than that.

"There is lots of doom and gloom but there is also lots of good in the world.

"Looking after Hope is hard work and very time consuming but I wouldn't change it."

- Do you have a message of hope for the New Year? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Hope's journey:-

Dee Puttock gave birth to her sixth child on March 26, 2007. She was ten weeks early and weighed just 2lb 2oz.

Within days she was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome, and doctors also discovered she had an 11mm hole in her heart.

On August 9 she had a ten-and-a-half hour operation, in which doctors at London's Guy's and St Thomas's effectively put a plaster over the hole in her heart.

Within 24 hours she had recovered sufficiently from the operation so that she could be transferred from intensive care to a normal ward, and within five days she was back at home.

She still needs regular tests on her heart at Ipswich Hospital and the problems could return. It is also not certain how Down's Syndrome will affect her life as she develops.

Happy Hearts Appeal:-

THE Puttock family are all firmly behind the Happy Hearts Appeal to buy a new baby heart scanner for Ipswich Hospital.

Launched by the Ipswich Bangladeshi Foundation it aims to raise £45,000 to buy a new and up-to-date version of the machine that scans Hope's heart four times a year and first detected a problem when she was born.

Mum, Dee Puttock said: "They saved her life with that machine. It is absolutely vital.

"The one they have got is old and they desperately need another. It is so much money but it is so important."

There will be several fundraising events over the next few months for the appeal, which will culminate with a fundraising extravaganza at the Corn Exchange on March 24.

Tickets for the event cost £35 a head.

If you want to help with fundraising efforts, call Jan Rowsell on 01473 704770. Alternatively if you want tickets for March's event or you own a business and want to get involved in the appeal, call Boshor Ali on 07958 795792 or e-mail boshorali@googlemail.com.

Fastfacts: Down's Syndrome:-

- Down's syndrome is a genetic disorder named after John Langdon Down, the doctor who first identified it.

- Down's syndrome occurs when a baby inherits an extra chromosome.

- About 600 babies with Down's syndrome are born each year in the UK.

- Down's syndrome affects physical appearance, as well as the ability to learn and develop mentally.

- It is a lifelong condition, present from birth.

- There is currently no cure for the condition.


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