Family first for Leah

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THE family of Fleetwood youngster Leah Garfitt have been on an emotional roller coaster over the past four years.

Until she was five years old Leah, who is now nine, lived a normal life despite being diagnosed with the rare Niemann Pick Disease, a heriditary disease which attacks the central nervous system.

She attended Charles Saer Primary School on Grange Road, Fleetwood, and was able to do all the things that any healthy youngster her age could,

But in the last four years dementia began to set in and she can now no longer remember to walk, write, eat or talk properly, and suffers from fits.

Leah now attends Red Marsh School in Thornton, which specially caters for pupils with learning difficulties and disabilities.

To make things still more difficult, Leah’s mother Lindsey Patterson, 28, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2005 and needed a life-saving operation. She is still on medication.

Thankfully her own mum Diane Hollings, has been there to help her every step of the way.

And with Leah’s father, Michael Garfitt, they will be watching next week when the documentary Leah’s Dream is screened on ITV 1 on Tuesday (March 1) at 9pm.

The family, who were filmed over two-and-half years, have already seen the finished film about how they have tried to give Leah as normal a life as possible.

Diane said: “The film maker, Chris Malone, has done a brilliant job. But it was quite distressing for us at times, when we were watching the documentary.

“One of the hardest things was at the beginning, seeing how well Leah was.

“At the airport on the way to Disney, you could seeing her walking along and looking so excited.

“When you live with someone all the time you don’t notice how much they change.

“She needs a wheelchair now and wouldn’t be able to do that.”

However, star of the show Leah also manages to brighten things up.

Lindsey said: “When you watch it, just when it’s becoming tough to sit through, Leah does something funny and makes you laugh.

“And that’s the way she is and always has been. She never moans or complains.”

The family have their own special copy of the film - a short composition of happy scenes which is without any voice over but instead has Abba’s I Have A Dream as a background.

Lindsey said: “I hope that one day she doesn’t forget who I am and can stay as she is, but we are taking everything one day at a time.”