‘Miracle’ joy for Sussex tiny tot who melted the hearts of her whole school

A mum whose little girl had to have a leg amputated because of a rare illness says: ‘A few little miracles have been sent our way.’

Vanessa Pethyridge spoke out after her three-year-old daughter Frankie - who walks with the aid of a prosthetic leg - was presented with a special prosthetic doll by big-hearted staff at her nursery school.

Frankie Pethyridge with her new doll

Frankie Pethyridge with her new doll

Little Frankie melted the hearts of everyone at Honeybees in Plumpton Green when she first joined the school three months ago. And Tina Lambert, the school’s head of outdoor learning, decided on action.

“I was determined to get a dolly that looked just like her,” she said. “Frankie had her left lower leg removed shortly after birth and she is the most lovely resilient little girl who loves playing with the dollies.”

Tina set about finding a doll with a prosthetic limb and after many calls and emails found “the only company in the world that fits prosthetics to dolls.”

The firm, known as A Step Ahead Prosthetics, based in the United States, offered to perform an ‘op’ on a doll provided by a six-year-old who was touched by Frankie’s plight.

A fundraising campaign was launched to pay for transport costs to and from the US and Honeybees parents helped with a cake sale and school Nativity - and Frankie was finally presented with her special doll at the school this week.

Frankie’s mum Vanessa, 38, said: “It’s fantastic. It was a complete surprise for her.” She said Tina, other staff and parents at the preschool “have just been incredible. When Tina told me what she was doing I just started crying.”

Frankie has a genetic illness known as neurofibromatosis which causes tumours to form on nerve tissue. The condition led to her being born with a broken leg which in turn led to amputation.

Frankie was fitted with a prosthetic leg when she was 19 months old but rejected wearing it for six months until she wanted to play with neighbours’ children near her home in Ditchling. Now, despite having to undergo annual health checks, “she’s a very happy child,” says Vanessa.

She said that she too had been ‘incredibly lucky’ in finding a job as an accounts manager that allowed her to work from home so that she could spend more time with Frankie.

“A few little miracles have been sent our way,” she said.