Event fundraising

Prestatyn charity event raises over £2,000 for mum who was bedridden for five years

AN EVENT to help fund a life-saving operation desperately needed by a mother of five from Prestatyn who has raised over £2,000.

‘Light for Leah’ took place at the Cross Foxes pub in Prestatyn on Friday March 25 in support of Leah Smith, 40, who suffers from Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (a group of rare inherited conditions that affect connective tissue) and has need for spine and vein surgeries.

The NHS cannot provide the help needed for Leah, who is spending 24 hours in pain, but it is hoped that private treatment in Germany can remedy this.

“Light for Leah” was hosted by two of Leah’s friends, Adele Bolton and Neeley Street, and featured entertainment such as live music, a DJ set and a raffle.

Neeley Street (left) and Adele Bolton with bouquets of flowers from Leah’s mother Debbie

In 2017, Leah underwent a lumbar puncture, which left her with a spinal leak. The puncture and subsequent procedures to repair the leak severely damaged her entire spine and central nervous system, leaving her in even greater pain.

In 2019, she discovered she had a blood clot in her head, which followed the discovery, through self-funded scans, that her internal jugular veins were almost completely blocked.

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Money from Friday night’s fundraiser brings them closer to around £10,000 needed to fund Leah’s trip to Germany, having already raised around £6,000.

Following a recent appointment for Leah, Neeley said, it became apparent that three specialists in Germany could help her, but trying to arrange appointments with each of them in one visit to the country s turns out to be problematic.

It is hoped that Leah will be able to travel to Germany at the earliest at the end of April.

Rhyl Journal: Leah needs specialist treatment in Germany because the NHS is unable to help her.  Photos: Debbie SmithLeah needs specialist treatment in Germany because the NHS is unable to help her. Photos: Debbie Smith

Neeley, an NHS worker who has known Leah for over 25 years and was a bridesmaid at her wedding, said: ‘It was a great night and we raised just over £2,000 which was amazing.

“We try to incorporate three appointments into one visit to Germany. We don’t have an exact figure for how much it will cost, but I suspect it will go up to around £10,000.

“We managed to communicate with two of the teachers, but we are having trouble getting the third one to communicate.

“Logistically, it’s a nightmare trying to get all these appointments while Leah is there. Leah’s mother, Debbie, is working very hard to try to solve this problem.

“Denbighshire Leisure have also joined us, so they are in the process of setting up a webpage for Leah. They also gave me a really fantastic prize to raffle off.

Neeley also recently hosted a bingo night at the Hideaway in Prestatyn which, coupled with the many collection buckets she carried around pubs in the area, brought her even closer to the £10,000 mark.

A GoFundMe page, set up by Leah’s ex-husband and full-time carer David, has also raised over £17,760 so far, with an overall goal of £300,000 set.

£10,000 of that money was spent on ‘Sir Lancelot’, a former private ambulance bought to take Leah to and from her appointments.

A specialist ambulance is needed to transport Leah, as a stretcher is the only way to get her out of bed.

Even moving her in this way can cause her to convulse, so traveling to Germany by road will also require a team of caregivers to help her.

Neeley added: “At the moment, with Friday night’s total, and from what I have from the Hideaway, and with a few other draws, we will definitely be at that £10,000 mark, so they are actively trying to book these appointments in Germany now.

“It was (Friday) just amazing. I’m so overwhelmed and blown away by our community here. Every time we fundraise, the support we receive for Leah is so overwhelming and heartwarming.

“People are happy to make some kind of difference in Leah’s life, in hopes that they’ll make it better.”

Rhyl Journal: Neeley Street (left) and Leah Smith, friends for over 25 years.Neeley Street (left) and Leah Smith, friends for over 25 years.

A post from David on the GoFundMe page to benefit Leah said: “Our family urgently needs your help to save our beautiful Leah.

“She is our daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, friend and above all a wonderful mom to her amazing children.

“Over the past five years, Leah has fought with everything she has to stay with us as we fight tirelessly to get her the help and treatment she needs and so deserves. .

“All of our fights have only led to brick walls and stalemates.

“The pain is 24/7, it’s unbearable and it has to stop.

‘Leah has 24 hour carers and is now so unwell and extremely complex and needs specialist doctors, operations and procedures in the UK and overseas.

“With life-threatening issues, time is running out fast.”

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit: www.gofundme.com/f/urgent-help-save-our-mummy-light-for-leah.