Little star

CLOSE BOND: Leah Garfitt with mum Lindsey Patterson.
CLOSE BOND: Leah Garfitt with mum Lindsey Patterson.
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LITTLE Leah Garfitt is only nine years old and has dementia.

Her life over the past few years has been a real rollercoaster.

But her family hope the TV show she will star in tonight, will help highlight her rare medical condition and show her true bravery and determination.

The pretty youngster, from Fleetwood, is to feature on an ITV1 show called Leah’s Dream, to be broadcast tonight at 9pm.

Film crews have followed the story of the courageous little girl for the last two-and-a-half years.

The programme will show the heart-rending and speedy decline over that time of the Red Marsh School pupil, who suffers from the rare genetic illness Niemann-Pick Disease Type C.

She is one of only 500 children in the world with the disorder, which attacks the nervous system.

It has already robbed the popular youngster of her ability to walk and now she has numerous other problems, including dementia.

And not only will the TV show tell her heart-breaking story, it will follow the battle of her beloved mum Lindsey, who was diagnosed with a brain tumour four years ago.

Leah is seen playing and dancing with her mum and dad Michael, as they try to help her live as normal a life as possible.

The film – which opens with scenes of her seventh birthday – will also touch on Leah’s trip of a lifetime to Disney World in Florida.

Leah’s grandmother, Diane Hollings, said film-maker Chris Malone had done a “brilliant job.”

She said: “We have seen a preview already and it was really moving.

“Some of it was difficult to watch because you can see how much Leah has deteriorated in that time and how fast.

“Chris has done such a brilliant job with the programme.

“He became a really good friend over the time the crew spent here with us.

“He shared laughter and tears with us and we will stay friends even though the filming has finished.

“Leah will sometimes just do something which is funny and makes you laugh.

“We hope the programme will raise awareness of the condition because it is so rare.

“And Lindsey suspected there was something wrong from an early age, but found it difficult to get people to listen.

“So hopefully other people watching will be encouraged to seek a second opinion if they think something is wrong.

“The programme does show the drastic change Leah has undergone and the ups and downs over the last couple of years. But it also shows how brave she is, how lovely she is, how she never moans or complains, and the special bond between her and her mum.”

Lindsey, 28, said: “What Chris has done is a fantastic thing.

“It will help to highlight the condition.

“It’s really good. All the family are looking forward to watching it.

“A lot of local people said they were too. We have had such great support from the people of Fleetwood, from the local community and from Brian House and other charities.

“We hope the programme will show people you have to make the most of what you have.

“We are taking everything one day at a time.”

And, according to director and producer Mr Malone: “There is a sad story at the heart of it because of Leah’s illness, but in many ways it is uplifting.”

Leah’s Dream will be shown tonight on ITV1, at 9pm.