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Sandwich teenager with 1 in a million condition leaves house alone for first time in 4 years

ByEleanor Perkins

A teenager with a one in a million liver condition has been able to leave her home independently for the first time in four years after she was gifted a powered wheelchair.

Hannah Bullard, 18, from Sandwich was forced to fundraise for the device herself after was told she didn't meet the criteria by Kent and Medway Wheelchair Service.

This was despite only being able to walk 30 metres with aids on a good day.

Hannah Bullard from Sandwich was told she had to fundraise for the powered chair herself Picture: Paul Amos
Hannah Bullard from Sandwich was told she had to fundraise for the powered chair herself Picture: Paul Amos

Without one, she feared she wouldn't be able to fulfil her dream of going to university to study biomedical science.

But after applying to Donations with a Difference for a grant to help towards the £6,000 piece of equipment, the Oxford University hopeful was made up to be told they would like to fund it entirely.

She said: "It’s incredible. I just want to use it constantly and be out the house all the time.

"Even if it’s just going around the block, it’s so nice to be able to get some fresh air whenever I want to.

"I’ve already seen a friend out of school for the first time in four years. I can even get the bus by myself again!"

Hannah Bullard using her wheelchair at Borough Market where she bought spices for one of her food blog recipes
Hannah Bullard using her wheelchair at Borough Market where she bought spices for one of her food blog recipes

Hannah, who lives in St George's Road with her mum, Michelle Harrison, and two younger sisters, has Budd-Chiari syndrome of the liver.

It affects only one in a million people and means her liver is unable to filter the blood efficiently. She will eventually need a liver transplant.

Hannah also has a connective tissue disorder, a pituitary tumour and neutrophilic dermatosis which causes large, painful blisters on her hands.

Despite her illnesses which only surfaced around the age of 12, Hannah is studying her A-levels at Simon Langton Girls Grammar School in Canterbury and is now applying to attend university, with Oxford and Surrey her top picks.

Hannah Bullard used her new wheelchair to attend a hospital appointment in London
Hannah Bullard used her new wheelchair to attend a hospital appointment in London

But although Hannah and her family have conquered one major hurdle, they face more as funds are still required for a car large enough to transport the heavy chair and a hoist to lift it.

She has almost £3,000 in a JustGiving account and has a target of £10,000 to pay for the extras.

A new community event The Delf Street Party featuring live music from more than 20 bands over the August Bank Holiday weekend is hoped to boost funds.

It has been organised by Richard Harris, landlord of The Fleur De Lis pub and Will Greenham from Smugglers Records and Smugglers Beer & Music Café in Sandwich.

Richard Harris from the Fleur De Lis pub with Hannah Bullard (14581238)
Richard Harris from the Fleur De Lis pub with Hannah Bullard (14581238)

Mr Harris said: "Hannah is a driven and smart young girl with a dream of studying biomedical science at university. We will be fundraising so that she can achieve her goals."

Mum Michelle Harrison, who is training to become a social worker, had previously described her daughter's situation as both "frustrating" and "heartbreaking".

She said: "We are so grateful to Donations with a Difference for funding the chair. It was incredibly kind of them, and an enormous surprise.

"Hannah is now able to leave the house without being taken.

Mum Michelle Harrison and Hannah Bullard. Picture: Paul Amos
Mum Michelle Harrison and Hannah Bullard. Picture: Paul Amos

"The Delf Street Party organisers, too, are being wonderfully supportive and it really does show how Sandwich is a wonderful community who come together to look after their own.

"Getting Hannah mobile to be able to participate in life as anyone else her age would be able to is the aim!"

You can donate to Hannah's fund here.

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

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