Fund-raiser for heart virus survivor Jessica

Jessica Atherton, aged eight
Jessica Atherton, aged eight

A CHARITY event is to be held for a Wigan schoolgirl left severely disabled by the heart infection that nearly killed her as a baby.

Jessica Atherton is now eight and her parents say they are greatly encouraged by her development.

Jessica as a baby with her parents

Jessica as a baby with her parents

But the Orrell youngster, who is unable to speak and has severe cerebral palsy, still needs round-the-clock attention and various pieces of specialist equipment which health and social services cannot afford to supply.

Which is where the fund-raising comes in. Recent money-spinning ventures have included collections by the Coffee Shop in Pemberton’s Fleet Street and mum Deborah forsaking her 40th birthday presents to accept donations which are helping pay for a frame which allows Jessica to stand.

Now a fund-raising evening is being organised on March 28 at Madisen Hall on Market Street, Hindley, from 7pm to midnight. It is the brainchild of Julie Kirkpatrick, a friend of Deborah, who will be splitting the proceeds between equipment for Jessica and facilities at Lancaster Hospital.

The tickets are £10 each this includes disco, entertainment and food. There will also be raffle with some very good prizes.

Anyone wanting to attend can contact Julie either on 07946 196870 or by e-mail at

Jessica, who is now in class 6 at Hope School, was perfectly healthy when born but when she was just a few months old the Athertons’ life was turned upside down by an infection that barely affects most children but almost killed the tot and left her with life-changing disabilities.

Eight years on and dad Roy said: “Jessica is a lovely happy little girl who had her eighth birthday in January. She is still unable to speak, but she still gives us a warm smile when we make her laugh by saying ‘Boo!’. She really loves the word ‘Boo’.

“Jessica is going for further hip surgery later this month at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, to remove metal attachments in her hip that were placed there during her previous operation, to correct a dislocation 14 months ago.

“Unfortunately, due to Jessica having severe cerebral palsy, it is common for children with this condition to have hip dislocation.

“To help strengthen her hips, we are in the process of buying a standing frame.

“This piece of special needs equipment will help to support Jessica in a standing position, which will not only help strengthen her hips, but will be good for her posture.

“We would like to thank everyone who has supported Jessica, and a special thank you to all those who donated to her standing frame.

“Wigan Council do provide some equipment, like seating, and wheelchair, but when it comes to other specialised equipment, then we have to rely on the charity