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Fantastic fundraising means Wisbech schoolgirl Hope will get special arm

A local community has helped make a Wisbech girl's Christmas wish come true thanks to a massive fundraising effort.

Hope Weston is one step closer to having her dream of getting a bionic arm, having just been fitted with a temporary artificial limb to help get her used to having one.

Eight-year-old Hope, a pupil at the Orchards Academy, was born without her lower left arm because of a complication in the womb – the amniotic band snapped, cutting off the blood supply to the arm.

A community has helped raise £19,000 for Hope Weston to get a bionic arm. (49381072)
A community has helped raise £19,000 for Hope Weston to get a bionic arm. (49381072)

It means she is unable to tie her own shoe laces or use a skipping rope and all the other things people with two hands take for granted.

Every year Hope, who is the eldest of Emma Weston's three daughters, has asked Father Christmas for a new hand, but with a bionic arm unavailable on the NHS and costing at least £15,000 it was out of the family's reach.

A conversation at a bingo session with family friend and community fundraiser Betty Cunningham about how Hope no longer believed in Father Christmas because she had been asking for a new arm "for ages" without getting one, spurred Betty into action.

Hope Weston, with her mum Emma, back, Betty Cunningham, left and Carrie Haime. (49434653)
Hope Weston, with her mum Emma, back, Betty Cunningham, left and Carrie Haime. (49434653)

Betty said: "It broke my heart when Hope said she didn't believe in Father Christmas, and all she wanted was some fingers and I wanted to restore her faith in Father Christmas."

In September 2019 she launched a campaign to raise enough money to buy Hope her much longed for bionic arm and within a few short weeks the total was already at nearly £9,000, largely due to a £4,000 donated from Betty's boss Gary Haime of Together Insurance and his wife Carrie.

Other donations came in from Wisbech Lions and also both Bygones Café and the Jolly Fryer ran raffles in support of Hope.

The target was set at £25,000, which will be enough to order Hope’s new arm and cover costs of physiotherapy, travel to and from hospital and an upgrade as she grows.

Covid put a stop to further fundraising last year, but there is currently £19,000 in the bank, more than enough to pay for the arm, which is why Hope has now been fitted with an artificial limb.

Betty said the aim is to get her used to having one and to stimulate her nerves ready for the bionic arm to be fitted, which should happen sometime next year.

The money was raised from a multiple of events including bingo nights and darts tournaments organised by Betty and friends, with Carrie helping by keeping the books and looking after the bank account.

Betty said: "I'm delighted that we have been able to help Hope and that she will be getting her bionic arm, it is great to restore a little girl's faith in Father Christmas, and to make her wish come true. There is still a little more needed to make sure Hope has enough to maintain her arm, and to get it upgraded as she grows, but the community has been fantastic in supporting the fundraising."

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