Listen online: Mum sings her heart out for Martine

LITTLE Martine Cassidy is as happy and full of beans as any girl of her age - but the four-year-old had a turbulent start to life.

LITTLE Martine Cassidy is as happy and full of beans as any girl of her age - but the four-year-old has had a turbulent start to life.

Devoted mum Jennie came through a painfully difficult pregnancy, with Martine requiring eight blood transfusions while still in the womb.

The brave youngster also suffers with cerebral palsy and has spent time recently at The Bobath Centre, in London, a specialist facility which has provided her with much-needed therapy.

Now, with the festive season fast approaching, Mrs Cassidy - an internationally celebrated singer - has promised to use her vocal talents to repay the people that cared for her very own Christmas Angel.

She has recorded Comfort and Joy - a 24 track folk and Christmas album full of music from across the ages and around the world - in aid of the Bobath Centre.

As well as creating the festive CD, the professionally trained singer has sworn to brave the cold and perform the songs live around Ipswich for shoppers during December.

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Mrs Cassidy, of Constable Road, Ipswich, said: “Martine got an awful lot out of the two weeks she spent at The Bobath and I'm really keen to let people know what they do.

“I didn't know what cerebral palsy was before I had Martine, or whether it affected people physically or mentally.”

During pregnancy Mrs Cassidy suffered a blood incompatibility, known as Rhesus Disease, which occurs when a mother's blood group is rhesus negative and the baby's is rhesus positive. The results for the baby can range from mild jaundice to anaemia and even death.

Surgeon Kypros Nicolaides, the world's foremost expert in prenatal surgery, treated mother and daughter.

Mrs Cassidy said: “It was touch and go for a while and we weren't sure if she was going to live or die.

“We expected the worst because the chance of her arriving was so slim but we were amazed when she did.”

All profits from the sale of Comfort and Joy will go to the centre and is priced at only £9.99. To order a copy of the album call 020 8442 2276 or visit www.bobath.org.uk.

Mrs Cassidy will be performing her music at a Meditation for Advent and Christmas event at St Peter's Church in Levington on Sunday, November 30, from 4pm.

Her son Joseph also plans to raise money for Bobath by cycling from Ipswich to Amsterdam next year. You can find out more about his journey and sponsor him at www.myspace.com/bike4lifeuk.

What do you think of Mrs Cassidy's fundraising efforts? Are you helping a charity that looked after a loved one? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Where to see Jennie Cassidy's solo performances during December:

Saturday 13 (2pm to 5pm) Asda, Bury Road

Thursday 18 (6pm to 8pm) Westgate Street

Saturday 20 (12pm to 3pm) The Buttermarket

Sunday 21 (1pm to 3pm) The Buttermarket

Monday 22 (12pm to 2pm) The Buttermarket

Tuesday 23 (2pm to 4pm) Asda, Bury Road

Wednesday 24 (2pm to 4pm) Asda, Bury Road

Jennie Cassidy studied Physics and Chemistry at the University of London, and taught science for several years at Chantry High and St Albans.

She left teaching nearly 20 years ago to pursue an international singing career that has taken her to five continents, and venues including La Scala and the Royal Albert Hall. She has since recorded more than 30 CDs and appeared on BBC radio and television.

She said: “It's a much nicer job and most of my time is taken up by concerts and recordings but I still teach the odd private lesson.”

Rhesus disease happens when antibodies in a mother's blood attack her baby's blood cells. This can happen when a woman who has rhesus-negative blood has a baby that has rhesus-positive blood.

If rhesus disease occurs and is not treated, the effects of the jaundice in the newborn baby can lead to learning difficulties, deafness and blindness. Severe cases can lead to stillbirth.

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