A mother’s dream of specialist schooling for her daughter could be in tatters if a last-ditch attempt to win funding falls through.
Francesca Adam-Smith has a unique genetic condition, which as well as affecting her movement and co-ordination has rendered the 10-year-old almost entirely mute.
Mum Rachel Shepherd said her daughter had spent her life desperately trying to communicate but had only managed to make a few sounds.
But St Mary’s School in East Sussex, which specialises in helping pupils with complex needs like Francesca’s, has pledged to have her talking properly within a year.
Leeds City Council refused to fund the £60,000 a year place, saying the care she received at her mainstream school in Wetherby met her needs.
But in desperation, the pair have left their home in Walton, near Wetherby, moved to East Sussex and Francesca will start at her new school on Monday.
Rachel, 35, is now appealing to East Sussex County Council to fund her brave little girl’s place, in the hope that one day she will finally get to hear her say “mummy” for the first time.
Her last hope is that their fundraising campaign can generate enough cash to pay for her schooling and give Francesca the intensive therapy she feels she needs.
Rachel, is her daughter’s full-time carer, said: “I am not wealthy and I have nowhere to turn. I’m so scared of losing this appeal and not being able to afford for her to go there long term.”
She added: “Communication is a fundamental human right, so for Francesca to be able to interact, to learn, to be safe, to be included, to have friends – I’m desperate for people to donate to give her that chance.”
Since her birth, the youngster has suffered from pneumonia, septicaemia, renal failure, high blood pressure and undergone operations on her stomach, hip and ears, nose and throat.
She received 30 minutes of speech therapy once a week at Deighton Gates Primary in Wetherby and occupational therapy for two and a half hours per half term.
At St Mary’s, run by a not-for-profit children’s charity, she will benefit from 30 minutes of speech therapy each day, plus physiotherapy and occupational therapy every day.
Francesca’s appeal is at: www.justgiving.com/FrancescaAdam-Smith