Cricket club's walk for baby Jessica

Jessica Newell with parents Keith Newell and Victoria Holliday

Jessica Newell with parents Keith Newell and Victoria Holliday

First published in News Bucks Free Press: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

MEMBERS of a cricket club have rallied round a team mate by organising a charity walk in honour of his terminally ill baby daughter.

Jessica Newell, the eight-month-old daughter of High Wycombe Cricket Club's director of cricket Keith Newell, was recently diagnosed with a rare life-limiting illness called Leigh's disease.

Keen to support their team mate, club members will be swapping bat and bails for walking boots on Sunday as they walk from Windsor to Marlow to raise money to help fund research into the condition.

An online fundraising appeal for the club's chosen charity, the Lily Foundation, this week passed the £5,000 mark - far above the original target of £500.

Mr Newell said: "It's great they are getting behind me and pulling people together to help the Lily Foundation and Jessica herself.

"We're a very close knit cricket club. When something like this comes home to roost, it hits everybody hard.

"I work with everyone here from a social and playing point of view and everyone was delighted to hear I was having my first child. For this to come and hit us has hit everybody.

"Before we had done anything ourselves they had organised a charity walk. It was very humbling they organised it and felt obliged to do something like that."

Leigh's disease is a mitochondrial disease, which means the patient's cells can't produce the energy needed to function. Jessica was diagnosed with the condition in June.

Mr Newell said: "It's like a car running on fumes or without oil. Unfortunately in Jessica's case it affects her brain, and cells in her brain have died.

"It's severely life limiting. We don't know how long we've got with her, there's no set standard. It could be really quick or she could make it to her toddler years.

"There's no cure, you can only treat the symptoms."

Mr Newell and his partner Victoria Holliday are both supporting a campaign for mitochondrial donation replacement therapy, a form of IVF treatment that prevents transmission of the condition.

It's due to be debated by MPs in Parliament on September 1 with a view to making the treatment legal. The campaign is being supported by the Lily Foundation, a Surrey-based charity for families affected by mitochondrial conditions.

Sunday's walk, which begins at Windsor town bridge at 9.30am, is expected to attract more than 100 walkers and anyone who'd like to take part is welcome to turn up and join in.

To donate to the fundraising campaign go to www.justgiving.com/JessicaNewell2014.

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