‘She is our inspiration ... our Pride of Britain’

Lani Chester and mum Helen Ball
Lani Chester and mum Helen Ball

A young woman who has cheated death more than once and spent much of her life in hospital refuses to dwell on her problems - even when undergoing gruelling medical treatment.

In fact 22-year-old Lani Chester spends all her time - when she’s not in hospital - fundraising to help other people. And now proud mum Helen Ball has nominated Lani for a ‘Pride In Britain’ award.

Lani, who lives with her mum in Lindfield, was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus and has undergone more than 60 operations - and is now paralysed from the waist down. She had her first op, and nearly died, when she was just three hours old. Many more have followed over the years. She lost complete use of her legs in 2012 when she went into a coma after suffering 22 seizures following yet another operation. Last August proved another worrying time when Lani again nearly died following major surgery for bowel and bladder problems.

“There isn’t a month when she isn’t in hospital,” said mum Helen. “But she is such an inspiration. She just gets on with things.”

Helen herself was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years ago. “Now we’re like a little unit and work together,” she said.

Since starting her fundraising Lani has raised thousands for Sasbah - The Sussex Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which she says is “like a family to me.” She added: “I spend all my time raising funds. I’ve done street collections, collected at meetings and functions, run cake stalls and I’ve been fundraising at Lindfield Village Fair five times.”

On November 15, Lani will be doing a sponsored swim at the Dolphin Leisure Centre in Haywards Heath and has set herself a target of raising £650.

“I am going to be doing 50 lengths which is going to be very hard for me,” she said. She used to swim a lot, but was unable to keep it up after her life-changing surgery in 2012 which resulted in her paralysis. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Lani-Chester?utm_id=13