Pantomime fun helps Melanie's surgery appeal

Donations continue to pour in for a Cramlington woman who is hoping to get specialist treatment in the United States.

Wednesday, 1st February 2017, 5:10 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st February 2017, 5:16 pm
Blagdon Amateur Thespian Society director/producer Tony Livesey hands over the cheque to Melanie Hartshorn. Picture by David Johnson.

Melanie Hartshorn suffers from a severe form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) that causes all of her joints to dislocate, especially those in her spine and neck.

She also has a severe case of craniocervical instability (CCI) and as a result, she is now completely bed-bound.

The complex surgery she needs is a procedure to fuse her skull onto her neck using hardware and it is based only in the USA.

The 27-year-old started an appeal for the £150,000 she needs about 18 months ago and thousands have been donated so far – including more than £28,000 via the page set-up on the GoFundMe website.

A total of £5,000 was donated by someone anonymously and £1,200 was presented to her on Saturday at the final night of this year’s Blagdon Amateur Thespian Society (BATS) pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, in Cramlington Village Community Centre.

It also took place last Thursday and Friday. As well as ticket sales, the money came in through a raffle and fund-raising bucket.

BATS director/producer Tony Livesey said the Cramlington group supports a good cause every year and members decided to support Melanie after hearing about the appeal.

Against all the odds, she managed to successfully complete a degree in biology with Newcastle University last summer – doing the final year from home.

Melanie said: “I’m overwhelmed by the support I’ve received from the local community and all the donations I’ve received.

“It’s fantastic, I really appreciate it and I hope that many more people will come forward and support the cause now that the word is getting out.”

She is also having a fund-raising ball on Saturday, February 25 at the home of Newcastle Falcons, Kingston Park, from 7.30pm.

The glamorous event will include a purple carpet welcome drinks reception, professional photographer, three-course meal, live singer, guitarist, starlight dance floor with a DJ, an auction, a raffle and a photobooth.

Tickets, priced £35 per person or £315 for a table of 10, are available to purchase at her website – make a donation, visit