A Bridlington man has been left speechless after receiving £1,000 in cash through his letterbox to help pay for his 10-year-old daughter’s headstone.
Devoted father Neal Annakin was heartbroken when his only child Isabel died in June after suffering from metachromatic leukodystrophy, a disease that left her unable to speak, walk or even swallow.
Neal, who gave up work to become Isabel’s full-time carer, spent all his money on giving his beloved daughter the best funeral possible in July, but this meant he had no funds for a headstone at her Sewerby Road Cemetery grave.
Almost three months on, Neal got home to open a posted envelope to see £1,000 in £50 notes with a message reading ‘towards your daughter’s headstone’ from an unknown source.
Neal said: “It was a huge shock. It is strange to be saying thank you and not knowing who the recipient is but, from the bottom of my heart, I cannot thank them enough. When I opened the envelope it took my breath away. Now I hope we can get a nice headstone for her.”
Medical staff revealed Isabel, at the age of two, was suffering from a rare genetic condition that affects just one in 40,000 people. Neal and Isabel’s mother Karen were both carriers of the defective gene and were told their daughter would not live until her fourth birthday.
Metachromatic leukodystrophy affects the growth and development of myelin, the fatty covering which acts as an insulator around nerve fibres throughout the body.
Neal spent hours researching his daughter’s rare condition. After contacting a family in America, he discovered a drug that was not used in Britain to treat Isabel. Propranolol is a beta blocker that is normally used to treat hypertension and angina. Doctors agreed to start Isabel on the drug and Neal feels this was a big reason to prolonging his daughter’s life.
The former Kings Mill School pupil received 24-hour care from a team of four Barnados staff as well as Neal and partner Sherrelean.
Melissa Hardcastle, a Barnados disability worker, said: “Isabel just brightened up everyone’s lives. She was such a fun little girl and we will never forget her. I feel privileged to have worked with her because she is so special and so inspiring. She is a little Bridlington superstar.”
Neal said: “You shouldn’t have to bury your own daughter. I love her so much. Despite all she went through, she was always smiling.”