St Albans music group holds event in aid of Great Ormond Street

Tick Tock charity appeal

Tick Tock charity appeal - Credit: Archant

The leader of a music group for young children put on a special event in St Albans to raise money on behalf of a little girl with a very rare medical condition.

Tick Tock Music, which runs regular singing classes for preschoolers, held the one-off session to help generate funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where former pupil Gabriella Farrugia has lived for the past four months.

The 10 year old, who loves to sing, dance and act, was diagnosed with Juvenile Dermatomyositis (JDM) – which affects just three children in every million.

The condition means that the immune system attacks sufferers’ skin and muscles. It can only be controlled through medication and Gabriella has had to re-learn how to eat and walk.

She undergoes three hours of physiotherapy a day to build muscle strength and will continue this regime for the rest of her life, alongside chemotherapy and drug treatments.

Like many rare illnesses, it is difficult for researchers to find enough cases to study. But half those in the UK with JDM are seen at GOSH which provides research opportunities.

Gabriella, whose story was used by GOSH as part of a major fundraising campaign, recently won the Young Person of Distinction award in the Mayor’s Pride awards.

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Abi Cowland, who runs Tick Tock and has done for the last decade, said: “Gabriella and her mum could not be at the event, as she was having treatment that day but sent a message of thanks. We had children who used to come to Tick Tock come back as well as current members, and lots of new faces – thanks to St Albans Mums Facebook page.

“The atmosphere was awesome and I was truly overwhelmed by the amount of support. It is hard when you know a child you have cared for and a family you know well is going through something so hard and there is nothing you can do to help. At least we feel we are doing our own tiny little bit to make a difference.

“All the children that have been to Tick Tock are like family to me. I am so proud of Gabriella’s approach to her illness. She is an amazing girl, has stayed so positive and is an inspiration to all.”

The event at Thunder Base Scout Hut in Oak Yard, Chene Drive, was attended by 38 children and £260 was raised through an hour-long session, a raffle and cake sale.

*Tick Tock is adding a new class at St Mary’s Church, in Sherwood Avenue, Marshalswick, on Wednesdays at 9.45am starting on April 20.