A MASSIVE fund-raising effort by an Alnmouth family has helped kick-start vital studies into a rare type of corneal blindness.
Elly and James Chapple have raised nearly £67,000 for research into aniridia – an eye condition which affects their five-year-old daughter Ella.
These funds have been matched by the Cells for Sight programme.
Elly, 35, said: “Our initial target was £20,000, then we were asked to raise £50,000.
“We can’t believe we’ve surpassed that and reached almost £67,000. It is fantastic and it is for all of those with aniridia and their families/carers.
“This is the beginning of real hope for the future, for sight to be protected and hopefully improved.
“It’s been an amazing journey.”
Locally, the family has had a lot of support, including from the Ferguson family and St Michael and All Angels Church in Felton who held a garden party in May, raising more than £13,000, and the annual Alnmouth Beer Festival at The Red Lion in October which collected over £2,750.
Help has also come from across the UK and around the globe.
Elly said: “People have been so generous. We can’t begin to thank everyone enough. The kindness has been amazing, bringing real meaning back to the kindness of strangers and human nature.”
The research is to begin at Moorfields and UCL’s Institute of Opthalmology in London and the team, led by Professor Julie Daniels, will aim to develop a cell therapy solution to help patients retain their sight for longer, following an investigation into how cell-to-cell communication is disrupted in the cornea during the progression of aniridia-related keratopathy.