A FAMILY are overwhelmed after big-hearted well-wishers helped raise £42,000 to pay for a budding ballerina’s life changing spinal surgery.

An appeal was launched to raise £45,000 for 13-year-old Lily-May Potter, of Maldon, after she was suddenly diagnosed with scoliosis the day after her birthday.

The dance-lover’s family have been fundraising ahead of the surgery, which set to take place in Germany on February 25.

Mum Kathryn Barnett said: “We started out less than two months ago with a mountain to climb.

“Now we’ve reached the summit, with the amazing generosity and kindness of a whole community.

“We have had support from local businesses, churches, schools, supermarkets, a league of individual fundraisers and an army of donors – that includes family, friends and strangers.

“The process has been touching, humbling and will stay with us.

“Saying thank you doesn’t feel nearly good enough, but it really does mean so much to us and we just couldn’t have done it without the help.

“Now the invoice is paid it feels very real.

“We are relieved that she can have this non-fusion surgery and feel lucky that she is a candidate but also feeling sad that surgery is the only way to fix her scoliosis.

“Nerves have set in a bit now that it’s really going to happen, and the surgery date is so close.

“She’s never had a major surgery so she is nervous about that and worried about the pain she will be in afterwards.”

Kathryn says Lily-May’s adolescent idiopathic scoliosis has left her in so much pain she finds daily activities challenging.

The only treatment for her double curvature in the UK is complete fusion, which will leave her unable to continue her passion for dancing.

But another surgery, which uses a non-fusion technique to straighten the spine, is available to paying patients.

Kathryn added: “She is looking forward to being able to return to all the things she loves, from dance lessons to after-school sports club, playing with the youth orchestra and singing with the choir.

“She hopes to join the performing group at her dance school after she recovers.

“She is in pain at the moment and it is affecting her in school and at home – even disturbing her sleep, so we’re all looking forward to fixing this pain for her, so she can get back to the important work of being a normal 13-year-old.

“We still have fundraisers running and the funds that we raise from now will be released from the charity to pay for Lily-May’s post-surgery care and support her recovery so she can have the best outcome.”