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Christmas to remember for supekids

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:04 03 March 2010

THE Evening Star's Kids in A Million are going to have a Christmas to remember this year.

After an extremely traumatic year, the Gentry and the Garrad families are trying to put the past behind them and look forward to a better New Year.

THE Evening Star's Kids in A Million are going to have a Christmas to remember this year.

After an extremely traumatic year, the Gentry and the Garrad families are trying to put the past behind them and look forward to a better New Year.

To put the icing on the cake, both families went to the Tower Rampart shopping centre in Ipswich to receive special prizes for their cherished youngsters as part of the Evening Star's annual Kid in a Million Campaign.

Both six-year-old Emily Gentry and three-year-old Charley Garrad have shown tremendous courage in the last few months battling against illnesses that most adults would have difficulty in coming to terms with.

But on Saturday both youngsters got to meet Father Christmas in his Ipswich residence as well as getting an early Christmas present from us.

Kid in a Million Emily from Mallard Way was given a Playstation 2 with proud dad Mark under strict instructions to get her a nice game for a little girl and not one for himself!

Little Charley from Queensberry Road could not contain her excitement as her mum Karen unwrapped the huge talking Winnie the Pooh, that was almost as big as she was.

Proud friends and grandparents looked on as their little faces beamed and cameras clicked and flashed all around them.

With just a day to go to Christmas, the Gentry family are counting their lucky stars that young Emily is still with them.

Since May her parents Mark and Marie have been taking each day as it comes as their little girl fought a rare heart condition that almost claimed her life.

Diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a condition that attacks muscle in the heart – her family was told that a transplant was the only option left.

While they were waiting for the transplant they were told that Emily only had three months left to live and although one was found she has had a series of setbacks since.

The new heart showed signs of rejection and half term was spent in hospital, but she now seems to be improving.

Marie said: "We are just so glad that she made it through to Christmas.

"She is still having treatment but it is an ongoing thing.

"She gets very tired still and usually has a wheelchair instead of walking around."

Back at Chantry Infants School full time, Emily cannot dash around the playground with her little friends and often stays in the library where it is quiet.

But her dad Mark is just pleased that she is still with them and he hugged her as he said: "This is the best Christmas present you could ask for."

The Garrad family has also had a traumatic year after finding out that Charley, who was two at the time had cancer of the retina called Retinoblastoma.

Her eye had to be removed and now the little girl has to cope with having a false one, which also has to be taken out and cleaned regularly.

This Christmas she will be surrounded by presents from people who have been amazed by her ability to get on with life and carry on smiling despite having to see specialists and undergo a series of tests and operations.

Just a few months later and she is back at playgroup at Gainsborough Sports Centre and enjoying every minute of it.

Proud grandparents Derek and Madeline Garrad were with her mum Karen when she was awarded her special Winnie the Pooh for being a Kid in a Million.

Derek said: "It has been a very traumatic year for us but the local cancer charities like Sargant have been very supportive."

Karen, 25 said: "She is doing really brilliantly and is coping better and better every day.

"She has been to so many parties and seen Father Christmas loads of times.

"We are going to my mums for Christmas and there are so many presents for her because everyone wants to buy one for her this year."


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