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JetBlue worker is slammed for 'racist' homeless Halloween costume

A JetBlue worker caused outrage after a picture appeared of her on social media dressed as a homeless person 'trying to get back to Puerto Rico or Cuba' and begging for money.

The unidentified airline worker wore tattered clothing and put black make-up on her teeth to make them look rotten. 

She was holding a plastic cup with a few coins and was carrying a sign with the caption: 'Homeless. Need help trying to get back to Puerto Rico or Cuba.'

A Twitter user with the handle @nats, posted the picture of the employee behind the JetBlue kiosk at Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. 

It was accompanied by the caption in Spanish: 'This was the costume of a JetBlue employee at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL. 'I want to read your opinions.' 

The image provoked outrage on Twitter hundreds mostly commenting that they considered it 'racist' and highly offensive.

One named Gabriela R wrote: 'A @JetBlue employee in the Fort Lauderdale airport showed up to work in this racist and highly offensive "costume."

'People’s hardship and suffering should not be mocked like this. The company should have accountability for all their workers. UNACCEPTABLE!.'

Another with the handle @dominoPR777 said: 'They need to fire her ASS and I demand a public apology from Jet Blue for their employees costume because as Puerto Rican I find it highly offensive and I personally won’t be flying Jet Blue until they issue a Public Apology to all [Puerto Ricans] and [Cubans].'

@xoooalba also said: 'The fact that there’s people saying this is okay ... i hate everyone omg.'

Other social media users argued the post was offensive to survivors of Hurricane Maria which devastated the country two years ago. 

The Category 4 storm killed an estimated 2,975 people in its aftermath and caused more than an estimated $100 billion in damage. 

It was the strongest storm to hit the U.S. territory in nearly a century, sparking an estimated exodus of nearly 160,000 people to the U.S. mainland.

One user wrote: 'Not sure if they know but thousands of people lost everything due to Hurricane Maria and for this JetBlue employee to think it’s OK to joke about the epidemic of homelessness in Puerto Rico and the U.S. is sickening and completely unacceptable', wrote another user. 'That’s NO JOKE.'

JetBlue is the largest airline carrier in Puerto Rico, with 50 daily flights from San Juan. 

The city of Fort Lauderdale, where the airport is, is made up of 20 percent Latino population, according to census data.

JetBlue apologized for the clearly insensitive costume choice. In an email to NBC the carrier claimed: 'In the spirit of Halloween, our crewmembers are welcome to celebrate in costume, but one crewmember chose a costume that was clearly insensitive and not in line with our costume policy,' said Derek Dombrowski, manager of corporate communications at JetBlue. 

'The situation was immediately addressed, and we apologize to anyone who was offended.'

He did not say whether the worker was disciplined over her actions.

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The story of a man who spent 28 years in jail for murdering his mum's violent ex - and how he struggled to cope with life outside prison

From a woman living in a car park selling sex to strangers for £25, to a murderer trying to adjust after decades behind bars, ex-prisoners have revealed what trying to rebuild your life is really like. 

Life After Lock-Up, a new Channel 4 documentary airing tonight at 10pm, follows eight convicted criminals after their release from prison, including Gemma from Swindon, who served six weeks in jail for shoplifting. 

She's now returned to the car park where she used to live, and sells sex, charging strangers £25 for oral sex, £50 for sex, £200 for the night or £40 for a 'girlfriend experience', to fund her drug habit. 

'I love prison, I ain't gonna lie,' she says, citing how she had a roof over her head, a safe environment and three meals a day. 

'When you're living like this, prison's a nicer alternative.'

The show also features Chris, who spent 32 years behind bars for murder at HMP Leeds, and who admits: 'I don't know what normal is.' 

Before she served her sentence, Gemma used to live in a car park in Swindon and returned to her former haunt after refusing the offer of accommodation following her release. 

Gemma reveals she's left her abusive partner sixteen months before the show was filmed, and says that 'drugs numb the pain'. 

'You can't beat the rush that you get from it,' she explains, before comparing the feeling of drugs to holding a newborn baby for the first time. 

On top of her drug addiction, Gemma also suffers from mental illness and has psychosis, which makes her believe she can see the future. She says she's felt a 'suicidal low' at times. 

Once free, she resorts back to her life on the street, living in the same car park and doing drugs with fellow homeless people. 

Chris was arrested in 1986, before the age of Internet and phones. At first he enjoys his freedom, listening to music and going for walks. But slowly, he turns to drinking as a way of coping and says it's the only 'comfort' he can get. 

'Some people thing getting released is easy, but it's not,' he says. 

During the documentary, he explains he was abused as a child and insists he's not a violent man. 

It's revealed at the end of the episode that Chris was returned to prison only 62 days after his release, for assaulting a police officer. 

Meanwhile in London, Azhar has spent the last three years in prison for burglary, but has been in and out for the last ten years for a string of offences, including carrying a firearm. 

He now has to make amends to his parents and estranged wife, and admits he's 'brought shame' on his family, but wants to turn his life around. 

'I knew what I was doing, I've made those choices, I've lived with the consequences,' he says. 

Throughout the documentary we see Azhar resisting the temptations of going back to an easier life of crime.  

A young offender named Rhys is welcomed by his mother Joy upon his release, but he has to cope with the fact he's not 'her priority' anymore.  

Rhys is a repeat offender that has spent 34 out of the last 38 months in jail.  He's broken into his own mother's house twice and stole her partner's work van, causing about £10,000 worth of damage, Joy reveals. 

He's also used to picking fights and according to this mother, has assaulted 'countless people.'

Rhys started getting in trouble with the law as a teen, and he's struggling to get his act together and grow up.

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Canadian oil millionaire, 80, is named as driver killed in M23 crash

The elderly driver who died when he accidentally strayed onto a motorway and was hit by a truck while taking part in a veteran car rally was today named as a 'well-liked' Canadian oil millionaire.

Ron Carey, 80, of Calgary, Alberta, had been at the wheel of a 1903 Knox Runabout 'Old Porcupine' vehicle during the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

Mr Carey, who was a well-known member of vintage car clubs and business circles in his home city, is said to have taken a wrong turn off the official route onto the M23.

He was declared dead at the scene and his wife Billi, who was his passenger, was flown to hospital in London by air ambulance, suffering from serious head injuries.

Mrs Carey was in a stable condition today at St George's Hospital in Tooting.

His friend Rick Pikulski told CTV News Calgary: 'I've known Ron for almost 40 years and he was very well-respected and well-liked. He's a tremendous loss.

'He was an avid collector. He had a passion. He was very well-travelled and would go on these vintage car rallies all the time. This was something he very much enjoyed.' 

Mr Carey was the founder of oil supply company J&L Supply and was also a major contributor to vintage vehicles at two museums, Gasoline Alley and Pioneer Acres.

Photographs showed Mr Carey's vehicle, which had no indicators and a top speed of 35mph, all but destroyed in the accident yesterday.

Mr Carey, who owns a £3.8million classic car collection and a home in Paradise Valley, Arizona, is thought to have competed at the race in 2011, 2012 and 2013. 

Hundreds of car enthusiasts take part in the 60-mile rally every year. The tragedy follows the death of another 68-year-old driver in the event two years ago.

Mr Carey, who was born in 1939 in Regina, Saskatchewan, was orphaned as a baby and was taken in by his mother's grandparents. 

Aged 17 he went to work on the oil rigs in winter, while in the summer he was involved in road construction, operating crawler tractors and earth moving buggies

He said: 'I was never without a job. When the rigs were operating, I was on one. When they were shut down, I would get a job doing whatever was available.'

Mr Carey worked his way up the career ladder with various drilling contractors before starting his own company, J&L Supply, in 1973.

He is also said to have a trophy room with one of the biggest and best sheep collections in the world, with 36 species as well as 24 from the Capra (goat) family.

Mr Carey is well-known in Alberta for the classic cars he has donated to museums, along with old trucks, gas pumps, signs and other items from farms and auctions. 

A spokesman for the Veteran Car Run said: 'The car involved in the tragic incident on the M23 had been entered in the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run.

'The car had left the route, which does not include the M23 where the collision took place. We are doing all we can to support the family concerned and are working with the police.'

The crash happened at the junction of the A23 and the M23, at Hooley, Surrey, at around 10am. 

It is thought Mr Carey may have taken the wrong lane and ended up on the M23, instead on staying on the official route, which avoids the motorway network.

A spokesman for Surrey Police said: 'We can confirm that a man has sadly died following a collision on the southbound carriageway of the M23 near J7 Hooley.

'The collision, involving a car and an HGV, took place around 10am.

'The driver of the car, an 80-year-old man, was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after the collision and a female passenger has been taken to hospital by ambulance with serious injuries. Police have notified the man's next of kin.'

The motorway was closed after the crash causing long tailbacks. Police appealed for anyone with information or dash-cam footage to come forward.

The four-seater rear-wheel drive Knox Runabout was designed by Harry A Knox – one of the pioneers of the horseless carriage industry in the US – and initially sold for $2,000.

They were known as the Knox Waterless because of the air cooling system, or more familiarly the 'Old Porcupine'.

One model fetched around £53,000 when sold at auction in 2012. The accident comes two years after 68-year-old David Corry was killed when his 1902 Benz was involved in a four-car crash.

Local resident Jocelyn Gregory, who saw the crash, criticised the organisers for poor signage and a lack of stewards on the route.

'There were not clear enough signs at the junction,' she said. 'If you are not familiar with the area, then it is an easy mistake to make. It was not organised properly. It is a huge junction. There should have been stewards.

'When the lorry hit, they flew up into the air like rag dolls. It was awful. I am not sure how the other passenger was still alive.'

More than 400 vehicles dating from before 1905 were registered in this year's run. Television gardener Alan Titchmarsh was among those taking part. 

The rally dates back to 1927 and commemorates the Emancipation Run of 1896 which marked the new-found freedom of motorists after the speed limit was raised to 14mph and the need for a man carrying a red flag to walk ahead of cars when they were being driven was abolished.

The 60-mile run began in London's Hyde Park at dawn, with the route taking drivers down the A23 through Gatwick, Crawley and Burgess Hill before the first car arrived at Madeira Drive, Brighton, shortly after 10am.

A listing for Mr and Mrs Carey's vehicle on the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run website, which states it was registered in Arizona, has since been taken down.

The South East Coast Ambulance Service said a woman had been taken to St George's Hospital, but that her injuries were not thought to be serious.

A second man was also treated at the scene for minor injuries, a statement said.

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A Teenage mother, 15, says medics sent her desperately ill newborn baby to a hospital 35 miles from her home

A 15-year-old mother has told how her newborn baby was sent to a hospital 35 miles from her Stoke-on-Trent home due to a shortage of beds - even though she is too young to drive.

Lucy Kidd said she missed out on the first few weeks of little Harper’s life after the desperately-ill 2lb 3oz tot was transferred to another hospital in Shropshire.

The youngster had been born prematurely by emergency C-section at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on September 27.

But two days after the birth, Lucy was told that Harper would be switched to The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford as there were not enough beds at Royal Stoke.

Lucy said she was assured by her consultant that she would also be able to stay with Harper at the hospital in a family room, but when she got to Telford there were none available.

With Lucy still too young to hold a driving licence and four buses needed to get there by public transport, she had to rely on her father for lifts.

At one point the family were going to stage a protest outside Royal Stoke's maternity unit before Harper was finally moved back.

Lucy, from Stoke-on-Trent, said: 'When Harper was two days old the consultant woke me up at midnight and told me that Harper would be moved to Telford because Royal Stoke was too full to have her and she will have to stay there until December 10.

'I was discharged the next day from Royal Stoke and the consultant promised that I would have a family room at Telford Hospital where I could stay with Harper.

'But when I got there they said there were no family rooms available. Telford hospital was really good, trying to get us in the family room on the odd days but they couldn't have us every day.

'The hospital booked us a hotel for the odd nights but otherwise we had to travel there and back.

'My dad has had to give up some work in Scotland to bring us to and from the hospital every day because he's the only one who drives in the family. It's an 70-mile round trip and it cost him a lot in petrol, parking and food.

'In just two weeks my dad did 2,000 miles in his car. The family have been helping each other out but it's been really difficult, it's horrible. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.'

As Harper was born prematurely she is currently suffering with Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) and Lucy was terrified she could take a turn for the worse while she was stuck in Stoke-on-Trent.

She added: 'Harper is so tiny and if anything could have happened to her when we were in Stoke-on-Trent and we wouldn't have been able to get to her quickly because it takes an hour-and-a-half to get there.

'My dad doesn't finish work until 5pm so I was only able to go and see her for about three hours a day in the evening. Originally I was going to miss out on the first few months of her life although thankfully she's back here now.

'I do feel I missed out though because I could have bonded with her a lot more at Royal Stoke.

'If she had stayed in Stoke-on-Trent my Nana's house is within walking distance of the hospital and I could have been with her all day.'

Lucy said Telford hospital rang Royal Stoke every day to check if space had become available but were repeatedly told 'not today, maybe tomorrow'.

It was October 22 - nearly four weeks after Harper was born - that she was moved to Stoke-on-Trent.

Lucy added: 'It was only when we contacted PALS that she was moved here.' 

A Just Giving page had been set up to raise money to fund Lucy's travel to and from Telford and it had reached £177.

Lucy's mother Joanne Baker said it was a 'nightmare' while Harper was in Telford.

The 35-year-old said: 'I just think it's a joke. We'd got to the point where we couldn't do it anymore. 

'I don't drive, I run my own business so I even had to ask my own customers for a lift to Telford which is embarrassing, but it was four bus journeys away.

'It's my first grandchild and I saw her once in five days. We were going to do a protest to get her back, I had 300 girls willing to come to Royal Stoke and stand outside the maternity ward.'

A Trust spokesperson said: 'We are sorry that Lucy was not happy with aspects of her experience.

'Royal Stoke University Hospital is a level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and is part of the West Midlands Neonatal Network, which means it takes the sickest babies requiring intensive care from across the region.

'As a result, babies are sometimes moved to a level 2 unit such as the Princess Royal Hospital in Telford for on-going care. This ensures that we are able to care for the extremely premature and sick neonates.

'While we strive to keep all babies at Royal Stoke, on this occasion we were following the care pathway.

'Antenatal mothers do receive information during their pregnancy with regards to care pathways.'

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AWoman who married tribe warrior opens Airbnb-style tourist experience

A German woman who married a Maasai tribe leader after she fell in love with him while volunteering in Tanzania has launched an Airbnb-style tourist enterprise that supports local health initiatives.

Stephanie Fuchs, 33, has set up a "cultural experience" where travellers can participate in ”real” Maasai life by living in huts and rearing cattle.

Part of the proceeds go to initiatives such as making reusable sanitary kits for women in the area and supporting the tribe. 

Ms Fuchs started working at a research camp close to the Selous Game Reserve in 2010. She enjoyed the experience so much that she extended her three-month trip to a year and started speaking Swahili in the process. 

While on Mafia Island she spotted a group of “ tall, beautiful herdsman” who follow the ancient tradition of shepherding cattle through the African savannah.

Her future husband, Sokoine, was adorned in red clothing and “beautiful handmade jewellery”. 

“In that moment I saw only him – he was taller than the others and had the most beautiful eyes,” she told the Standard.

“As I was intrigued and impressed by them and particularly him, I tried to engage them in conversation with my Swahili. They were friendly but in a rush to get going.”

In the days and weeks that followed, Ms Fuchs tried to strike up small talk whenever she saw Sokoine.

"I was more determined than ever to have a proper conversation with him,” she said. 

“And we did. We opened up to each other and about a week later we got together.”

When the time came for Ms Fuchs to leave, she knew she was not ready.

“I wanted to stay in Tanzania. I had come to love the country - its beautiful wildlife and especially its people - so much. I knew I did not want to live anywhere else.

"And then there was Sokoine, who had become my boyfriend and who I did not want to leave. So I suggested to him that we should try and make a life in his traditional Maasai family home in the Masai Steppe. We moved in there in January 2012.”

Ms Fuchs said it was hard adapting to living alongside the Maasai. At first, she felt lonely and isolated when they spoke in the Maa tribal language. 

She also found it challenging having little alone time with her partner - for he was always surrounded by other warriors. 

She explained: “If they eat, they cannot do so alone, they have to be with other men. Women eat separately. 

“My husband’s family made an exception for me, knowing and understanding that I come from a different culture and wanting to make me feel comfortable. So I was allowed to eat with my husband and his brothers. 

“But we would be in the company of others every day until night time.”

The cultural differences put a strain on the relationship and the pair had arguments.

The couple realised that if they wanted to stay together, they would need to adapt to each other’s lifestyles. 

Ms Fuchs “dug deep” and tried to understand the root causes of disagreements. Eventually, they married.

“Now many of the things that I used to find difficult have become an integrated part of my life,” she said.

“I learned Maa, I connected to the people, his family and friends and now they have become my family and friends too

“I am happier than I have ever been and I have come to love this beautiful tribe so much. 

“They are innate conservationists who live in harmony with nature. They are kind, generous and even-tempered and hold an ancient wisdom from which many of us in the western world could learn a lot.” 

They now have a son and Ms Fuchs has set upprojects to help people in her community.

She employs local women to cook and make traditional gifts for visitors staying with the tribe, as well as setting up health projects in the region. 

She said: “For the work they [the women] do in helping me look after our guests, I pay them a wage and so give them the means to become financially independent of their husbands.

“They also make traditional jewellery to sell which again gives them an income. 

“The same is true for my Masai women enterprise making reusable sanitary kits. The women who work with me get paid and at the same time we give back to our fellow women and girls by providing them with much needed sanitary pads.”

As part of her cultural tourism project, Ms Fuchs teaches guests about the Maasai culture and gets them to participate in the traditional dancing if they desire.

As part of the experience, travellers can help look after the cattle with the tribe, eat local dishes and absorb themselves in Massai life.

The proceeds from the venture go towards supporting her family and the community. 

Ms Fuchs concluded: "I love Tanzania, I love the Maasai and I believe their beautiful ancient culture is worthy of preservation."

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Teenager terribly burned as toddler hopes surgery could help him see again

A teenage boy who suffered terrible burns and blindness after an accident as a toddler hopes pioneering surgery could help him see his family again. Zaid Garcia, 16, has defied doctors’ predictions to survive 80% burns to his body after a candle set his bedding on fire when he was two. He is fundraising for surgery to remove a layer of skin that covers his eyes, and eyelid reconstruction surgery to help him see again. The youngster, from Galveston in Texas, wrote on his GoFundMe page: ‘When I was two-and-a-half my mum took me to bed and…a candle fell and it caught on fire. ‘I was super injured. I’ve had so many operations now that I can’t even remember.

‘I’ll probably have more skin grafts (in the future). ‘They amputated both my hands and they took the fingers too. I have both my legs and feet.’ Zaid added: ‘I have five toes on the left and on the right, I have one toe. I don’t walk normally. I don’t step flat. ‘The doctors shut my eyes under the skin. ‘I don’t know why they didn’t just take them out – probably because they thought I would see in the future.

‘So my next hope is to get my vision back. I’ve been blind since the accident. If I was to have this surgery it would be the first time I’d see the world properly (since before the fire). ‘To be able to see my family again after 14 years will be good. ‘I think it’ll be cool. The first thing I want to see would be one of my friends. ‘My best friend from school, Julia. I’d like to see her beauty, I guess.’ Zaid was injured while living in his native Mexico, and later flown to a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, for specialist treatment.

He said it was ‘hard’ growing up disfigured and that people ‘are scared’ of him ‘because of the way I look.’ Zaid was so distressed by people’s reaction to his appearance, he once tried to take his own life. His mother Otaida Carillo has since helped him come to terms with his injuries, with the youngster now expressing himself through singing, poetry and drawing. He added: ‘My parents say to me “Be good” when I go to school. ‘They are very supportive and encourage me to carry on as if nothing happened.’

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Sisters who fought cancer together as children are tragically separated as one dies following a relapse, aged 20

A woman who battled cancer alongside her sister as a child, when they were diagnosed within months of each other, has died, aged 20. 

Rebekah, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, died on Tuesday morning, 20 months after relapsing with Ewing's sarcoma. 

She and her younger sister Megan, 17, were diagnosed with unrelated cancers eight months apart when they were aged 12 and 10 respectively, in a twist of fate that defied all odds. 

Her parents Julie and Murray said they were devastated to lose their 'beautiful, strong, brave girl'. 

Murray said: 'We are absolutely devastated, we will never, never get over losing her.

'We are a close family and Rebekah was very, very close to her sister. Megan is devastated too.'

Julie said Rebekah, who was just months from graduating with an Higher National Diploma in beauty therapy from Fife College, was well-loved by everyone who met her and was a strong young woman.

Murray added: 'Nothing seemed to phase her, even though she went through all these treatments.'

The sisters had both been given the all-clear after gruelling chemotherapy seven years ago.

But a biopsy confirmed Rebekah's cancer had returned early last year and chemotherapy and radiotherapy failed. 

The chances of such a double blow were said to be equivalent to winning the lottery twice. 

Hopes for her recovery were dashed after she travelled to Manchester last week to take part in a clinical trial.

Her condition deteriorated rapidly while she was there and she was determined too ill to participate.

She was home for only an hour before she was rushed by ambulance to the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy where she died days later with her family around her.

Family friend Roberta Kent, who helped raise money to support the family during Rebekah's treatment, is continuing to raise funds to help them in their grief and for a funeral

Rebekah  was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in September 2011.

In May 2012 the family was struck a second blow when they learned that Megan, then at Primary School, had B-cell lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.

Both girls were treated at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh and Rebekah was given the all-clear in August 2012. 

Megan finished her treatment, which was also successful, a month after.

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How the incredible rescue of a toddler trapped down a well captivated the world

It has been 30 years since 18-month old Jessica McClure was rescued after tumbling down a 22-foot well in the backyard of her parents' Texas home, and she is now opening up about her life, three decades later, in a new interview with People

Jessica is now 30, married with two children, and still living near her childhood home in Midland.

Gone however is the $1.2million trust that had been waiting for her after the ordeal, lost she explains as a result of the 2008 stock market crash. 

The money means little however to Jessica after all that she went through at such a young age, and her ability to defy the odds and survive after a fall that would have killed most. 

'I had God on my side that day,' she explains.

'My life is a miracle.'  

It was 11 years ago that Jessica married Danny Morales, a 43-year-old foreman at a pipe-supply company, and the two have a 9-year-old son Simon and 7-year-old daughter Sheyenne. 

Jessica describes the family as 'normal down-to-Earth people,' but her children are slowly starting to grow curious about why so many people are interested in their mother.

'I'm hoping my children learn from [my rescue] to always be humble,' says Jessica.

'And to remember that is you look hard enough, there are so many good people in this world.' 

In 1987, Jessica became the most famous person in the world for 58 hours, with millions tuning in and praying for her safety as dozens of rescuers battled night and day to save her from inside an abandoned well.

During the ordeal, kind-hearted viewers also donated money to help the little girl recover.

Jessica has said in the past that she has little memory of being wedged in the pipe or of the 15 operations that followed her ordeal.

A scar from her hairline to the bridge of her nose is still visible however where her head rubbed against the wall of the well. 

Jessica also lost a toe to gangrene because one leg was pinned above her head in the underground shaft. 

In October 1987, Jessica's parents were poor teenagers struggling to make ends meet during the depths of the oil bust.

While visiting her sister, Jessica's mother left her in the yard while she went to answer the phone. Moments later, Jessica came upon the 8-inch well opening and fell inside.

Her plight captivated an immense television audience. Alone and 22 feet below ground, Baby Jessica sang about Winnie the Pooh.

It was ‘a nightmare that got worse and worse,’ recalled her father in a 2011 interview.

When rescuers finally brought her to the surface, she was covered with dirt and bruises, and her right palm was stuck to her face. 

Jessica reveals in her People interview that her daughter was recently asked to share something with her class that no one knew about her, and the young girl decided to share: 'Nobody knows about me that my mom is Baby Jessica.'

Her first major interview came 20 years after the incident in 2007 when she sat down and spoke with Matt Lauer on Today.

In that interview she described her experience before and after the rescue as 'weird.' 

She also spoke about her fame as a result of the incident, recounting one amusing incident that had happened when she was a teenager after stumbling off a curb.

'A little old man said that to me, he said, "You are the baby that fell in the well, right?'' recalled Jessica.

'I said, "Yes, sir." He said, "Well, I thought you’d learned how to watch your step when you were two years old."'

It was not all fun nd laughs however, with Jessica saying at the time that during he formative years one boy referred to her as 'well dweller.'

In the wake of her rescue Jessica even got a chance to meet then-vice president George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara. 

Jessica also spoke about how protective she is of her son Simon in that 2007 interview.

'I kind of get a little excited every time he gets a bump or a bruise. I have learned that he’s going to get many, and there’s nothing I can really do about it,' she said. 

'He’s going to fall down, and he’s going to bust his face open, and he’s going to do it several different times.'

Jessica dded: 'I’ve got to let him grow up. He’s a good boy.'

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Father-Of-6 Marries His Girlfriend From His Hospital Bed Just Hours Before Dying Of Cancer

A battling dad fulfilled his last wish to 'die a married man' when he tied the knot with his bride - just hours before passing away.

Gary Smart, 33, had hoped to wed Laura Smart, 31, next year but the couple changed their plans when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer last month.

The father of six had aggressive lung cancer and was given just days to live when he told staff at Northampton General Hospital he wanted to die a married man.

Heartbreaking photos show him holding hands and exchanging vows with Laura as he lay in his hospital bed last Friday (18/10) evening.

After the touching ceremony, which included a hastily arranged buffet in the ward for guests, Laura lay down with her new husband. Tragically, just seven hours later Gary passed away with his new bride at his side.

Laura, who has a daughter from a previous relationship, said: 'After Gary was diagnosed with terminal cancer he told me he wanted to die a married man.

'We thought we might have more time together but it wasn't to be. Last Friday staff said it wouldn't be long and they helped us organise our wedding.

'Mum and I went out, got the rings, came back and we were told the staff had sorted it all.

'They said, 'We've got your special marriage licence and a priest. You're getting married at seven o'clock.'

In just an hour more than 25 family and friends dashed to the hospital to witness the couple exchange vows.

Laura said: 'We had about 25 people there. We said we should have done it years ago.

'It was like everyone was saying goodbye to him at the same time. We all knew he was going to go.

'He managed to say his vows and put the ring on my finger and give me a kiss. That night I laid in bed with him. We watched Fast and Furious 8 as he was into cars. I managed to fall asleep and woke up when the call button went off at 3am.

'I looked at Gary and he was staring at me, like he was trying to reach out to me. I had a conversation with him and then realised, his oxygen mask was not on right and he wasn't breathing. We only had seven hours of marriage but I was so grateful I could give him that.

'He was a kind, lovely man. He loved his cars. He was always building things, offering to make things for people.

'If anyone messaged him saying 'I've got problems with my car' he would be straight there, wanting to help out.

'He was very selfless and caring. Last year, I was off work for a while with an infection and he knew I couldn't afford Christmas.

'He went out and bought presents for my daughter. As long as his kids got what they needed, that was all that mattered. The kids always came first.'

The couple met when they were teenagers but split up before getting back together in their late 20s.

Gary, from Northampton, started feeling poorly in July when he came home from work with a bad back and complaining of chest pain.

He started losing weight and was unable to sleep so went to the doctors who ordered an X-ray and drained fluid from his lungs.

Laura added: 'The doctors said they had found something but they didn't know what it was so they did a biopsy.

'We got him home but he was clearly still in pain. He wasn't eating properly and was very weak. We took him back to the doctors, but a different one this time.

'The GP was concerned about lumps that had appeared on his body and on his lymph nodes.

'We went back into hospital and went straight on to the admittance ward for five days.

'On the 29th of September, we were told that Gary had an aggressive form of lung cancer and he just got worse. He was a wonderful man and I was proud to be his wife.'

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Heart-broken fiance marries his partner's corpse during her funeral

A man in China has married his partner's corpse during her funeral to show his love for her after she lost her battle with breast cancer.

The heart-broken groom, 35-year-old Xu Shinan, hoped that the wedding ceremony could realise his late fiancée's dream of being a bride. 

Xu's deceased partner of 12 years, Yang Liu, was dressed in a white bridal gown and surrounded by 169 bouquets pink roses when Xu read his wedding vows to her, according to a local report.

The special ceremony took place on Saturday morning in the funeral parlour of Dalian in eastern China.

It was witnessed by the families and friends of the couple. 

'Wife, please don't worry! For me, the rest of my life will be in pain, but I will not give up,' Xu said. 

Yang died on October 14 at the age of 34 after battling with cancer for five and a half years.

Xu said he had stayed by the side of Yang's body 24 hours a day for seven days since her death, which is folklore in China to pay respect to the departed.

'My wife used to say that nobody was allowed to cry should she die. I was holding back my tears on the day, but when [her body] was sent for cremation, I couldn't fight it anymore,' Xu said.

The couple's story was featured in a recent report by Dalian Evening News.

According to the newspaper, Xu and Yang were university classmates.

They got to know each other by having long chats through the internet and fell in love in August, 2007. 

The couple registered their marriage in August, 2013, and started to prepare for their wedding. 

But their life was turned upside down three months later when Yang began to experience pain in her chest.

The bride-to-be, 28 years old at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer the following March.

Yang went through surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy, but she never cried and was always smiling, recalled Xu.

She documented her treatment through her account on Twitter-like Weibo, hoping to inspire other cancer patients.

In 2017, Yang's condition improved and the couple started to save money for a flat and prepare for their wedding again. 

Unfortunately, her cancer made a comeback a year later - before they could hold their nuptials.

Xu took Yang to visit hospitals around the country in a bid to find better treatment.

'We went across the nation, seeking medical advice while travelling. It was a happy year after all,' Xu said.

Yang's health deteriorated in May this year and had to be hospitalised in Dalian.

Xu said she suffered from a series of complications and became bed-bound in July after sustaining serious bone fractures caused by sneezing. 

She was knocked into a coma on October 6 and pronounced dead a week later. 

'She couldn't even recognise me in the end and we didn't bid farewell,' the devastated man said. 

Xu said after Yang died, he discovered from her online shopping cart that she had been choosing wedding gowns before she was hospitalised. 

'I promised to buy her the most beautiful wedding gown,' said Xu who went to a bridal store a day after her death to organise the wedding.

The store's owner was said to be so moved by Xu's story he told him to choose whichever dress he wanted for a token 1 yuan (11p).

Standing in front of his and Yang's family and friends, an emotional Xu said during the wedding-cum-funeral ceremony: 'Although today's wedding is late, it has realised Yang Liu's dream.'

He added: 'All that I can do is to fulfil your wish and letting you wear a wedding dress fulfils my wish.'

The groom broke down in tears after the speech. 

Xu and Yang's story have moved thousands of people on China's Twitter-like Weibo, who praised the groom's dedication.

One web user known as 'Chu-Twinkle-Chu' said: 'There should be such a devoted and affectionate man in the world.'

Another commentator known as 'Juanzi 03584' wrote: 'This is true love.'  

A third reader 'LCJ' shared: 'Hope you two could meet in next life.'

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Chinese farmer, 34, is trapped in a child's body due to brain injuries

A 34-year-old man in China has been trapped in a child's body due to brain injuries he had when he was six.

Farmer Zhu Shengkai from the province of Hubei claimed his body stopped growing after he was hit in the head by a stone in his childhood. 

The man, who also works as a hairdresser, said: 'I am still like a child, therefore I cannot have a wife or child.'

He then joked: 'I cannot grow old.'

Speaking to Chinese media from his home in a village near the city of Wuhan, he added: 'Although I am 34 years old, my body functions are still immature like those of a child.' 

He said he was often mistaken for a boy by the others due to his child-like voice and looks. 

Mr Zhu said he was struck by the rock while playing a game.

He said he was told by doctors that he sustained injuries in the pituitary gland - part of the brain which releases hormones that control growth in the body.

However due to the lack of healthcare services in the 1980s in rural China, his condition never got treated properly.

According to the man, his head was not bleeding after he was hit, so he did not think much of it.

However on the same night, he started to have high fever and his condition failed to improve after three days. 

His parents took him to a local clinic and he was found to have a blood clot in his brain. Surgeons removed the lump and Mr Zhu's parents thought he had been cured.

Mr Zhu lived the next three years in a carefree way like other children. 

But when he was nine years old, he discovered that he had not grown taller. In addition, his body had remained the same as that of his six-year-old self.

After visiting bigger hospitals, he was informed that his pituitary gland had been damaged.

He followed doctor's orders and took medicine for five years, but no changes were observed.

He never went through puberty. 

Mr Zhu now makes a living by planting crops. He has also opened a hair salon to cut hair for his neighbours. 

The man is frustrated by the fact that his body still functions like that of a six-year-old, which makes it impossible for him to have his own family.

But at the same time, he is keeping a glass-half-full attitude. 

He said: 'I see the others [of my age] all have wrinkles on their faces, but my face is still tender and wrinkle-free. It will be also good if I can look like this when I am old.'

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Mother whose baby lived for just an hour after birth donates 33 liters of breast milk to help premature and ill newborns in her daughter's memory

A mother who tragically lost her baby selflessly pumped and donated 33 liters of breast milk for other premature and struggling newborns - all in her daughter's memory.

Alexis Marrino, 22, from the Rapid City area of South Dakota was devastated when she found out that her baby had the killer defect anencephaly and would either die before birth or shortly afterwards.

But the 22-year-old, who had always planned to breastfeed her baby, decided to pump her breast milk until she returned to work seven weeks later, so that she could donate to premature babies in need.

A series of emotional pictures show a proud Alexis posing in front of the hundreds of bottles of milk she's produced.

Following the diagnosis, Alexis agonized over whether to abort her baby, but eventually decided that she would give birth because she desperately wanted 'just to hold her'.

Baby McKinleigh Marrino was born on July 29 2019 and lived for just one hour and 10 minutes, during which Alexis and her husband Michael Marrino, 25, got to hold and cuddle their daughter.

The bereaved mother started pumping her breast milk the very next day, and claims she found the process 'emotional', but felt 'very lucky' to be able to do so.

Alexis said: 'When I found out I was pregnant, I actually always wanted to breastfeed or at least use my breast milk for my own children.

'I figured I had already planned on using it, so I might as well donate it. At first, it was emotional, pumping breast milk after losing my baby. It was stressful and frustrating.

'But eventually, after a few weeks, it became the norm. I don't know if pumping helped to process my emotions, but I know I was one of the luckier women.

'A lot of women have issues pumping after they lose a child and I didn't really have any issues as far as depression and things like that.

'I just had to remind myself who I was doing it for and that got me through it. It is going to premature babies and babies who have difficulties when they are born.

'I believe I pumped 1,130 ounces in the end. I was shocked when I counted it all.

'People keep telling me it will help a lot of babies. I am proud of how much I managed to pump.

'A part of me wishes I could have kept doing it because it feels like there's a part of me missing because I did it for so long. I am so glad that I did it though.'

Alexis and her husband Michael Marrino, 25, had been thrilled when they found out they were going to have a baby shortly before Christmas last year, with the mother-to-be knowing she would breastfeed her baby.

But when she found out that there was no brain activity at her 20-week scan, Alexis was referred to a specialist who confirmed that McKinleigh had anencephaly, a neural tube defect.

The rare cephalic disorder occurs in about 3 pregnancies in every 10,000 in the United State, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

After she was born, the heartbroken parents spent several hours with their daughter until Alexis felt ready to let her go.

Alexis, who works as a supervisor, said: 'They gave me some options at first. They said I could terminate my pregnancy or continue on, either one.

'They gave us ideas of what we wanted. In my mind I was like, yes, I want to terminate. My initial thought was how could I continue on when I already know what the outcome is going to be.

'Then I decided I wanted to see her and hold her so I decided to continue on with the pregnancy.

'It was shocking to meet her. I thought she would have different features. She definitely looks like her dad more than me.

'It was a really precious hour and ten minutes. She was very warm and soft so I was glad that I got to hold her.

'She was alive for an hour and ten minutes and we kept her for a few hours after that and then I finally decided to let her go so we didn't keep her too long.'

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Boy, six months, whose rare genetic condition leaves him unable to breathe has just MONTHS to live

A six-month-old boy with a devastating genetic condition has been given just three months to live unless the NHS funds a 'miracle drug' that could save his life.

Haris Khan suffers from the genetic condition type 1 Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which makes muscles weak, leaving sufferers unable to move, swallow or even breathe.

Since being diagnosed on Valentine's Day, Haris wears an oxygen mask and has not left the intensive care unit at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital. 

The drug Spinraza was available for dozens of SMA sufferers under a small scheme paid for by the drug manufacturer until last November.

Watchdog National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) does not recommend NHS England pays for the drug.

The body claimed its cost of £450,000 per patient per year is 'too high for it to be considered a cost-effective use of resources'.

Speaking at his son's bedside, Haris' father Shakeel Khan, 31, tearfully said: 'This is England, it's not a third world country.

'My family are from Pakistan. I'm born here, my dad had cancer removed the day Haris was rushed to hospital but we can't help a little kid who's six months old with a genetic illness?

'Only a 100 babies a year maximum need that treatment. We, as a country, are losing a 100 babies because we don't think it's justified to save them.'

SMA affects around one in every 10,000 babies worldwide, according to SMA Support UK. 

The first British girl to receive Spinraza - Annabelle Rose Thomas - was then able to come off breathing support, swallow food and has even ridden a horse.

The pharma company Biogen makes the drug, charging almost £600,000 (around $797,900) per person per year in the US.

Biogen is offering Spinraza - which is still available in Scotland - at the lower price of £450,000 ($598,460) for the first year in the rest of the UK. 

It also offered an undisclosed discount to the NHS, but it was still not enough. The two are still locked in talks.

All seemed well when Haris was born last August, with staff at Wythenshawe Hospital describing him as a 'happy, smiley, friendly' baby.

But when a health visitor came for an eight-week check-up last Ocotber, she noticed Haris could not move his head properly.  

'He had no head control at all, it's known as floppy baby syndrome,' Mr Khan said. 'Everything was floppy - arms, hands and legs.'

The health visitor requested an 'urgent' appointment, however, Haris was not seen until December 27.

He was then diagnosed with hypotonia - decreased muscle tone - and recommended physio once a week.

The family believed he was progressing, until, at the end of January, Haris suddenly became very ill with a cough and a cold.

After several visits to their GP, his parents rang 999.

Haris was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital, where his condition rapidly deteriorated and his respiratory system collapsed.

He was intubated, with the family going back and forth between Alder Hey in Liverpool and Manchester due to a lack of beds.

After a week at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, they thought Haris was improving.

He was even due to have his intubation tubes removed.

But following further tests, the family were given the devastating diagnosis. 

'They said "we need to get you to [a] meeting [room]",' Mr Khan said.

'I walk into [the] room and something tells me something's not right.

'There's a family liaison, three neurologists, two consultants, a bed nurse and wing nurse.

'The week before the result, I'd been talking to the nurses saying "I can accept any result, because I already thought I'd lost Haris".

'They start saying your son has spinal muscular atrophy. I thought "that makes sense because he can't hold up his head".

'Then they said "I'm sorry, there's absolutely no treatment and your son has three months to live". 

As if the situation could not get any worse, the family were then told treatment is available in Scotland but not England.   

'We would relocate in a heartbeat if it meant we could save Haris,' Mr Khan said.

'We said to [Haris's stepbrother] Marijus, we might move and he said he would go anywhere in the world if he can save his one little, baby brother.'

But the family have been told NHS Scotland will not accept patients who have simply relocated and the treatment is only available for genuine residents.

On March 6, Haris' family will be staging a peaceful demonstration outside the headquarters of NICE in Manchester ahead of a crucial meeting. 

NICE is expected to announce a decision on whether to start funding Spinraza on the NHS in England.  

'Babies like Haris are being used as a bartering tool,' his father said.

'March 6 in Manchester is going to be such a big day for SMA-suffering families, because if this drug is not approved, God only knows what we're going to do for Haris.'

Mr Khan and his wife Renata, 26, are not working while they focus on helping Haris get the treatment he needs.  

'Who needs money without a family?,' he said. 'Any money in the world is nothing if you don't have a family to enjoy.

'The best I can do is to save my son or keep [him] with us for as long as possible.

Despite all they have endured, Haris' parents are determined to stay positive. 

'SMA has changed a lot in the last 15 years,' Mr Khan said. 

'I'm speaking to people who've been treating their children for the last three or four years and got them to five-years-old with love and dedication.

'These people give me strength and inspiration that my Haris can do that as well.

'The world miracle is in our vocabulary for a reason - yes it's very rarely used, but it does exist. This is what we're clinging on to.

'From what I can see from Haris, he is fighting. He is fighting hard.

'When I see him eating, and hugging and smiling. I think "I can't give up on you", otherwise I'm not a responsible parent.'

But despite Mr Khan's optimism, Haris' specialist neurologist, who diagnosed him, is 'adamant' the youngster will not make his first birthday. 

Due to the parents being carriers of the gene for SMA, there is a strong chance any other children they have could also have the condition.

They have therefore decided not to have anymore. 

Whatever the outcome on March 6, Haris' parents do not want other families to go through the same ordeal. 

'We might only have my Haris for a few months, so I've got to create a legacy for him,' Mr Khan said. 'The NHS don't screen for SMA at birth.

'Had they screened him in August when he was born, the treatment was available until November on the Early Access Programme.

'Eighty infants are on that - Haris would have been 81. That's one thing we're calling for.' 

Haris is the youngest child with SMA to feature on a leaflet being handed out to all MPs this week by the charity Muscular Dystrophy UK. 

'Every SMA parent is waking up thinking 'is this our son's last day?,' Mr Khan said. 

'Until a few weeks ago I thought SMA was a type of baby milk - now I understand what it is.

'Haris hasn't got a voice, that's why we have to speak up for him. The community is helping us, don't get me wrong - but the people that we need the help from is the NHS.'

A spokesperson for NHS England added: 'We understand how difficult and frustrating it is for families waiting for decisions to be taken on the funding of new treatments.

'Which is why the company must price this drug responsibly and at a level which is both cost effective and affordable to the NHS.

'It is disappointing that Biogen chose to close the Early Access Programme for new patients with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1 before the NICE assessment process had been completed.'

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Woman, 23, who texted her dead father's phone every day for four years finally gets a text back .

An Arkansas woman who lost her father four years ago but texted his phone every day to share updates on her life, received the shock of her life when one day she got a response from a bereaved man who lost his own daughter in a car crash. 

Chastity Patterson, 23, of Newport texted her father's old phone number on Thursday, the night before the fourth anniversary of his death. 

'Hey Dad, it's ME. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day again!' Patterson said, not expecting an answer. 


After sending a long post mourning her father's passing and mentioning her triumphs including graduating college and beating cancer, she received a surprising reply.  

'You are an extraordinary woman and I wish my daughter would have become the woman you are, thank you for your everyday updates, you remind me that there is a God and it wasn't his fault that my little girl is gone,' he said. 

'He gave me you, my little angel and I knew this day was coming. Everything will be okay, you to push yourself everyday and shine the light God gave you. I'm sorry you have to go through this, but if it makes it any better, I am very proud of you. 

Shocked and touched, Chastity shared the post on Facebook on Friday where it went viral racking up over 265,000 shares. 

She captioned her post: 'I text my dad everyday to let him know how my day goes, for the past Four years! Today was my sign that everything is okay and I can let him rest!'

After her post captured the hearts of thousands of online readers, she shared an update post explaining that her dad Jason Ligons was not her biological father but was the patriarch figure in her life who looked after her since she was a child. 

'He never missed a school dance, prom, my games and YES he would give me long talks about my mouth and attitude. I had to introduce my boyfriends to him (If I was allowed to date) and he would act like a normal dad and give us the long talk,' she said. 

'I've cried with him, told him everything and even became very independent because he took the time to love me and show me what happiness looks like. SO YES Jason was my father but he was a role model for many kids in our town,' she added. 

'I shared my messages for my friends and family to see that there is a God and it might take 4 years, but he shows up right on time!' she said.

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Oh, The 22-year-old who converted to Islam after the mosque attacks

When Megan Lovelady stood in the entranceway of the Masjid Al Noor for the first time, she knew she was home.

It was only two weeks after a gunman stood in the same spot firing hundreds of bullets into the people that she would soon call her Muslim brothers and sisters. Inside this same building, she would convert to the Islamic faith.

Lovelady is one of three people who have converted to Islam at Al Noor Mosque since the attacks of March 15.

One is a former drug addict and homeless man who attended a funeral for one of the victims.

Lovelady now wears a niqab (full-face veil) - a decision made after we visited her - has started calling herself by the Arabic name Nabela and prays five times a day like her Muslim brothers and sisters.

At first, the 22-year-old Christchurch cafe worker just wanted to help. The day after the attacks, she had heard Muslim women were scared to leave their homes wearing hijab for fear of their personal safety.

Born in the American state of Tennessee and migrating to New Zealand with her family when she was 7 years old, Lovelady decided that day to wear a headscarf in solidarity with other Muslim women. "I watched a billion YouTube videos," she says, "about how to wear a headscarf so that I wouldn't offend anyone."

Later, she laughs now, she realised there is no standard practice and Muslim women don't tend to be judgmental about the way in which the headscarf is tied.

As she walked through Christchurch with her head covered, she felt as if people looked at her more than usual. She hoped this small gesture of support would help people accept the wearing of a headscarf as "more normal".

She continued wearing a headscarf for several days. A week after the massacre, she got off work early to attend the vigil in Hagley Park, along with thousands of others, where Friday prayers were held near Al Noor Mosque.

"When the imam recited the Koran , it was so amazing," she says.

"Something sort of moved inside my chest. I'd only ever felt that once before but to a smaller degree."

It was when she was 15 years old and she was baptised in a Christian church. Back then, she'd felt the same sort of shifting of energy around her heart, but it wasn't as intense. It was as if something said, "Hey, I'm here . . . but you're not quite in the right place yet."

Shortly after the Koran recitation, hundreds of Muslims knelt to pray. It was an emotionally powerful sight for Lovelady, and she wanted to join in the prayer movements too, but "I didn't know how. So I just stood there in my hijab and cried."

After that, Lovelady wanted to know more about Islam. She also had an almost desperate need to help the Muslim community that was suffering from the attacks.

She approached the welfare centre that had been set up as a central gathering place for the affected families and looked for a woman in hijab outside the building so she could ask how she could help. With none she could see, she began talking to an armed police officer.

"I asked him about his firearm," she recalls, "and then I asked him how we can help these people. He looked at me weirdly and nearly laughed. 'Just go in,' he said. I was like – can I just go in? I was really shocked that it was that simple."

Lovelady starts to cry lightly as she explains, "He's the reason for all of this. I just want to thank him for bringing me to Allah."

Lovelady ran inside and "from the moment I entered that place, I was called sister and it was beautiful".

After helping out in the kitchen for the afternoon, she met a woman who asked if she wanted to know more about the Koran . Lovelady had thought, "Sweet as, sure – I'm open-minded. I've got time."

Until then, none of her efforts to volunteer or to wear a hijab in support of Muslim women was about wanting to understand their faith. Instead, Lovelady says, "I'm always very hungry for knowledge and have looked into many different religions before, never looking to follow one, but always just interested in the information."

As the Muslim woman spoke to her about the principles of the faith, Lovelady says, "It was like, yeah, I believe that. I understand that. I agree with that. The way you're saying it right now makes a lot of sense to me.

"Someone gave me my first Koran ," continues Lovelady. "I read and read and read and kept going back to the Welfare Centre. Then it closed down.

"I wanted to see the friends I had made so I went to Al Noor Mosque. I had no intention of becoming a Muslim, but by now I was very much curious."

On April 2 Lovelady walked into a mosque for the first time. "The only way I can describe it was like: 'You are home'"

Two other visitors at Al Noor Mosque were asking one of the Muslim brothers questions and Lovelady soon joined the small group.

"It got to a point where he kinda turned around and said to me, 'Well, why aren't you a Muslim then?' He told me about the Shahada and the five pillars of Islam … it ended up in my taking the Shahada that day."

Shahada, or "the testimony", is a short declaration of a person's belief in one God and the acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet. It is the first of the five pillars of Islam and is spoken by a new convert first in Arabic and then in English, stating, "There is no god but God. Muhammad is the messenger of God."

Was it that easy to convert?

"Well," says Lovelady, "Allah is going to know if you're not genuine and it's about what's in your heart as well. It has a lot to do with your personal relationship with Allah."

There are sometimes several witnesses to someone taking the Shahada, and the focus is on welcoming them as part of the Muslim community, says Dr Mustafa Farouk, president of the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand.

"Islam is not a religion that has a lot of monitoring, or a group of elders, or big structures like cardinals and Popes. It is entirely up to you how you manage yourself and your relationship with God. There is a lot of freedom about how you worship and that appeals to some people."

While non-Muslims call people new to Islam "converts", Muslims call them "reverts."

According to Islam, Farouk explains, "Every living thing – every human, animal, tree – is already a Muslim, because Islam is just the total submission to the will of God ... That's why we don't have any ceremonies; it's just people that are coming back to where they started in the first place."

After Shahada, he says, Muslims encourage the revert to meet other members of the community, visit the mosque regularly, read, and learn the religion in its purest form rather than through a specific culture or nationality.

Most Kiwis don't realise that mosques are open places and that everyone is welcomed there, regardless of their faith or lack of faith, he says.

"When something like [the shooting tragedy] happens, people ask, 'Why were they in the mosque and why were they all killed?' Maybe this is another reason people are so interested in Islam at the moment.

"All of the mosques across the country are very busy and have experienced a marked increase in visitors. I would have to say that because of the way Muslims responded to the attack, the way family members forgave and loved, it informed the population how loving our faith is. They thought – maybe we need to find out more."

Farouk says Muslims don't tend to proselytise or try to convert people to Islam through preaching. If invited, Muslims usually just talk to people privately about their beliefs.

For a woman raised in non-Muslim countries and with lots of new Islamic rules to follow, there must be things Lovelady misses from her former lifestyle.

"Rocky Road ice cream," she affirms loudly. "It has marshmallows in it, which contain gelatine that Muslims should not eat. I was offered some the other day and at first, I said yes because I didn't know.

"Am I going to burn in hellfires because I accidentally ate some Rocky Road ice cream? Absolutely not. It's about intention as well. But you can't just go out there and say, 'Hey I'm going to eat lots of Rocky Road ice cream'.

"But I know that giving up a few things like eating pork means more blessings and that there's so much more out there that I am getting in return. I haven't found one thing that really upsets me or that doesn't fit into my life."

Her mother, a born-again Christian, kicked her out of the family home when she changed her faith, although they are trying to repair the relationship.

"My mother is learning and trying her best while still keeping her own beliefs."

Lovelady now lives with her sister, who has male flatmates and friends, which creates difficulties with Islamic belief that only male family members should see a woman uncovered.

"We're really not supposed to spend any time alone with other men. And I need to leave my hijab on until after everyone goes to bed."

Lovelady is not in a relationship but believes her future husband will be Muslim.

"When I find the man that I want to get married to, he's going to love me for my mind. He's not going to be so obsessed by my body."

She works at a cafe in the suburb of Merivale and says her colleagues and boss have been supportive, allowing her to pray in the small courtyard during work hours if no customers are using it.

Praying five times each day "gives my life structure and purpose", Lovelady says.

"From a western perspective, people think 'oh God, your God makes you pray five times a day - doesn't that take a lot of time?' But really it's only 25 minutes every day in the 24 hours each day that he's given you."

She loves the fact that millions and millions of Muslims are praying all over the world at the same time each day. "And the best thing about it is that you've stood in the same direction as everyone else. It's amazing and the unity of Islam is incredible. It's the fastest-growing religion in the world and there are very good reasons for that."

When asked about how her friends react, her response is: "All my friends are at the mosque now".

Friends in America had made some "disturbing comments" that made her need to distance herself from them, such as that she didn't really understand being a Muslim and that she was being ignorant.

But she says most people in New Zealand have been accepting.

Since wearing the niqab she says she is starting to get stared at a lot more. She was on a bus recently with a group of schoolchildren who stared at her and looked "slightly scared".

So that they would see it was just a "friendly, normal woman's face behind the cloth", she removed it and smiled at them, which was met with smiles back.

Lovelady says Muslim children are taught to look women in the eyes "the mirror to the soul", and that they aren't scared when they can't see a woman's face. She believes Kiwi kids should be taught this way too.

"I've loved wearing the niqab, it makes me feel good. I feel that people in New Zealand need more education about this, that behind the niqab is a real human being."

Lovelady remembers being bullied throughout school for coming from a different country and having a different accent from the other kids. She believes this is one reason why she connects to the sense of being "other," similar to many Muslims living in non-Muslim countries.

"It's terrible. The first thing that gets said when someone is angry at you and you are a foreigner is 'go back to your own country'. It's heart-breaking and I can't believe that all these [Muslim] kids have to put up with that.

"I can't claim to know the extent that all these women have grown up and had to endure that – being the 'other' and being bullied because of their dress and beliefs." Lovelady bows her head and a few slow tears run down her cheeks.

At age 16, she experienced a devastating personal tragedy. "I actually watched my partner kill himself," she says.

"After that, I felt like a vase that had been dropped on the ground and had been shattered. I picked myself back up and glued myself back together, but it was a different picture and Megan wasn't its name any more. My identity had changed, and I started calling myself 'Vee' for 'Vedehlia'."

Farouk is not surprised that more people may be turning to Islam following the tragedy. "There are a lot of people who are spiritually inclined that are looking for a way of life that gives them meaning."

For Lovelady, she claims that changing her faith so visibly and deeply is "not as scary as it seems … if you have misconceptions about Islam, don't hate us. Just come and talk to us and you will see why it makes us feel so good".

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Mother, 32, reveals how she made the agonising decision to let doctors remove part of her seven-year-old son's BRAIN in the hope of stopping the 70 life-threatening seizures he was suffering every day

A mother has revealed how she was forced to decide between leaving her son to battle life-threatening seizures or risk paralysing him by removing part of his brain. 

For the past seven years, Stephanie Bailey, 32, has done everything she can to help her son Gabriel, seven, in his battle with epilepsy.

But his condition just got worse, until he was having up to 70 seizures a day and couldn't go anywhere or do anything alone.

Doctors eventually said the only possible cure from life-threatening seizures was a risky operation to remove part of his brain.

But they said the op might not work, and doctors warned his Ms Bailey that even if it did, he could be paralysed permanently on his left side.

She agonised over the decision for a week before deciding to go ahead with it.

But Gabriel woke up from the nine-hour operation unable to move the entire left side of his body.

Thankfully his paralysis was not permanent and he is already back on his feet just four months after surgery.

Gabriel has left side weakness that is slowly improving and he is even practising for a dance competition in Germany - something unimaginable before.

Ms Bailey, a teaching assistant from Oxford, said: 'Choosing to send my son for brain surgery that could leave him paralysed forever was the most difficult decision of my life.

'If we didn't have the surgery, the doctors said he wouldn't be able to do much as he gets older - he'd be in a vegetative state by the time he was a teenager.

'Gabriel is the most amazing little boy and I couldn't bear the thought of his condition destroying him like that over time so I chose the surgery.

'The doctors couldn't predict if the paralysis would be permanent or not, so we took the risk that he could be paralysed forever from the surgery.

'By some miracle, my brave little boy is back on his feet already, running and dancing, just four months after surgery.

'He's only had ten seizures since the surgery, and I'm just so happy that the hardest decision I've ever made was the right one.'

Ms Bailey, who is a teaching assistant for a special needs school in Oxford, welcomed her only son Gabriel in April 2012 with her then partner handyman Jose Pestana, 51.

Gabriel was a healthy and happy baby until he started having seizures when he was seven months old.

With Gabriel suffering with up to 70 seizures per day, doctors suspected a brain tumour, so rushed him for an emergency MRI and he was diagnosed him with a cortical dysplasia.

Cortical dysplasia occurs when the top layer of the brain doesn't form properly and it is one of the most common causes of epilepsy.

Gabriel started taking daily anticolvulsant medication in January 2013 and he was seizure free until his first birthday - when he had a seizure while blowing out his birthday candle.

From then on, he was only ever seizure free for a maximum of two weeks.

Unsuccessful medicine changes meant Gabriel's epilepsy had become intractable and he was subject to anywhere from 10 to 40 seizures per day.

Ms Bailey said: 'I felt so sad for Gabriel - he had to have 100 per cent supervision and needed assistance to go to the toilet.

'I had to go everywhere with him, even around the house, because his seizures were so frequent and spontaneous.

'He couldn't play in the park without me holding his hand, and he had to bed fed because he'd have seizures mid meal with food in his mouth.

'He had seizures during the night which meant we never got much sleep and he was usually too tired to go to school so he'd stay at home with my twin sister whilst I went to work.

'It was so hard, especially because he just wanted to play like any other little boy and have some independence.

'Gabriel discovered a passion for dance, and joined KC's School of Dance in Oxford with when he was four, with his teachers being very understanding of his condition, just taking him to the back of the class when a seizure struck and then letting him join back in.

'We learned to cope with Gabriel's seizures because we didn't have another option.

'Gabriel's father Jose and I split up a few years ago but Jose is amazing with Gabriel, he's very much still involved and is always in the family home so that Gabriel has two consistent parents.

'Gabriel is my first child so I knew no different but as he grew older, I learned to live on auto-pilot - going to work, caring for Gabriel and making life as fun as possible for him.'

Gabriel's medication dosage was slowly increased over the years until December 2018 when he underwent a stereo EEG at Bristol Children's Hospita

Stereoelectroencephalography (commonly known as stereo EEG) is a minimally invasive procedure where electrodes detect the origins of seizures in the brain.

Some 14 wired rods were bolted into the boy's skull with multiple wires entering his brain in order to perform brain mapping.

Doctors stimulated Gabriel's brain by sending electrical impulses to parts of the brain where seizures were surfacing.

Seizures do not always originate from the area of the brain where they surface, so doctors triggered seizures to see how much of the motor area of the brain would be affected.

Findings from the EEG showed the seizures were coming from Gabriel's cortical dysplasia, and that removing the undeveloped part of the brain would give the young boy a 50 per cent chance at seizure freedom.

However, the activation of certain rods saw Gabriel unable to use his left hand or foot, meaning he could have been left paralysed on his left side by the removal of that part of the brain.

Ms Bailey said: 'We were told that if Gabe were to have surgery, he would suffer left side paralysis that could be permanent, but he would have a 50 per cent chance of seizure freedom.

'If we didn't take the surgery option then Gabriel was likely to deteriorate, making life very limited as he grew up.

'Without surgery, there'd be a high chance of the seizures spreading to other parts of his brain and his future would be uncertain.

'It took me about a week to make the decision to go for surgery as I thought we'd rather take left sided paralysis over life threatening seizures.

'I went for the ''glass half full'' approach when looking at the 50 per cent chance of seizure freedom but I felt sick at the time and so lost, because whatever the outcome, this was on my hands.

'Gabriel loved to dance and wore his seizure helmet during lessons at his dance school, and surgery could put a stop to that forever.

'I thought how can I choose what's best for my little boy when I don't even know what that is?'

Gabriel underwent resection surgery on June 7, 2019 where doctors worked hard to remove the cortical dysplasia.

He was on the operating table for nine hours as doctors removed part of his brain with Stephanie waiting anxiously outside theatre.

The surgery was a success with doctors able to remove the undeveloped area of Gabriel's brain and greatly reducing his risk of seizures.

But when Gabriel woke up from surgery, he found he was unable to move the entire left side of his body and doctors could not determine if the paralysis would be permanent.

Unfortunately, surgery had left Gabriel with an air pocket trapped inside his brain and he had to be given oxygen for 48 hours after surgery.

Ms Bailey said: 'When Gabriel was paralysed on his left side, I was in two minds over it.

'I was so sad for him, that he couldn't move, and I was scared that I'd made the wrong decision, but those feelings were soon suppressed by the worry over an air pocket in Gabe's brain from surgery leaving him oxygen dependant for two days.

'My main concern was with what I couldn't see - the brain - rather than the physical impairments as I couldn't let myself think more than a day at a time.

'Gabriel was so happy that he wasn't having seizures - even though he couldn't move his left side, he'd wake up every morning and say ''I didn't have any seizures!''

'At the end of each day, he's say ''They must have taken all the seizures because I haven't had any today!''

'We had brought a sentimental box of happy memories with us to the hospital, and he wore the party hat from his 7th birthday to celebrate having the surgery because he was so happy to not have seizures any more.

'I thought he may not dance again, which broke my heart, but his teacher Kelly assured me that even though paralysed, Gabriel could always be a member of KC's.

'He wasn't really upset that he couldn't move his left side because his physio doctor came round everyday and gave such positive encouragement that Gabriel felt completely confident and looked forward to her daily visits.

Five days after surgery, Gabriel started to get significant movement back on his left side.

His leg progressed quicker than his arm and hand, and he was able to take his first steps just two and a half weeks after surgery.

Just over five weeks following the procedure, Gabriel managed to start independently moving his fingers on his left hand.

Gabriel was discharged from hospital on 9 July 2019, and since the surgery, he has only endured 10 small seizures lasting around 8 seconds at a time.

His brain is still healing, but four months after surgery, Gabriel is more active than ever and is even flying to Germany this month for a dance competition.

Stephanie said: 'It was only after surgery that I have managed to see that I only knew half of Gabriel before.

'He's now more alert, he's clever and funny and just so full of energy.

'Gabriel has always appreciated his life even with the seizures, and is always saying things like ''I love my life'' and ''my life is amazing''.

'Just a month after surgery, he took part in a dance competition in Kent and qualified in the para section, guaranteeing him a place in the IDO world championships in Germany later this month, which is just amazing.

'We are still going through uncharted waters because his brain hasn't fully healed yet, as that can take up to a year, so we're just taking things as they come at the moment.

'This means that I spend my days appreciating life with him and fewer seizures, but I'm also nervous and anxious in case things change.

'I didn't realise how down and on edge I have been for the last seven years until I look back on life before surgery.

'Gabriel is my whole entire world and so much more and the thought that I could have lost him to epilepsy makes me sick but at the moment I'm euphoric that we've come this far.'

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How miracle baby survived being born 16 weeks early

A baby born 16 weeks premature and weighing just 1lb 10oz has beaten the odds to celebrate his first birthday. 

Doctors said baby Haris Mockbill was unlikely to survive after his mother Ellie Barr, 28, gave birth to him prematurely at 24 weeks. 

Ellie, from Birmingham, had experienced heavy bleeding throughout her pregnancy. After one particularly heavy bout of bleeding, Ellie gave birth to Haris, who had underdeveloped lungs. 

The baby was unable to breath properly and was kept alive by a ventilator. 

After two weeks of battling for life, Ellie and her husband Hassan, 31, were told to prepare for the worst after his lungs began to fill with fluid. 

However a last-ditch attempt to save the baby's life by placing him on a course of steroids kept Haris alive. 

The steroids helped to clear Haris's sickly lungs and his condition drastically improved. 

After a few weeks, the newborn was able to leave the intensive care unit. 

Harry is now looking healthy and happy, and weighs a stone.  

Community worker Ellie, who has two more young sons, told The Sun: 'He overcame everything that was thrown at him. He never gave up.

'We are a perfect little family now and it was so worth all of the fighting.'

His parents say their baby is a true inspiration and his birthday was celebrated with a big party.  

Little Harris faces more health complications, including a bleed on the brain, which comes as another blow for his parents. 

'It was hard to take but as long as he's still with us and not in pain, that's all that matters,' Ellie said.

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Harry Dunn's twin speaks out about his brother who was killed by the fugitive wife of US spy

When Niall Dunn remembers his twin brother Harry, there are no shortage of happy memories which come to mind. 

Their shared love of SpongeBob SquarePants and Star Wars, for example, or their coveted matching Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas. 

The time that Harry wore a sombrero during the entire flight home from a family holiday to Mexico because he couldn't bear to put it in his luggage.

Every night in their shared bedroom in the peaceful village of Charlton, Northamptonshire, they'd stifled giggles as they played guessing games and whispered song lyrics to each other in the dark. 

They fought, like any brothers, but their bond as non-identical twins was nevertheless so strong that they had an instinctive understanding of each other's moods.

Entire conversations could be held in a single glance. But today, as Niall recalls that 'very special' childhood, there is one memory in particular which refuses to budge.

Late one night, when they were both aged six, Harry saved Niall's life. He had woken struggling for breath, in the throes of an asthma attack. Harry – the older twin by two minutes – had understood the danger, and rushed to wake their mother, who called an ambulance.

At the time, it solidified their bond. But what haunts Niall now is the terrible knowledge he was not able to save his brother in return. 'I've returned to that memory a lot over the last few weeks,' Niall says, his face crumpling.

'He saved my life – I owed him one. He was always so good to me, so protective. But I never got to pay him back.

'These are thoughts I haven't yet been able to process properly. I'm not sure I ever will.'

It has been eight weeks since Harry, 19, was killed in a case which has made headlines around the world and provoked an outpouring of support and sympathy for his devoted family. The details are now well known. 

On August 27, Harry's motorbike was involved in a head-on collision with a 4x4 driven by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a US spy, who was allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road after leaving RAF Croughton, a US intelligence hub in Northamptonshire.

Within days, Mrs Sacoolas had fled back to the States with her husband Jonathan and their three children, claiming diplomatic immunity. The Americans have repeatedly refused to issue a waiver, despite the family taking their campaign as far as the White House, where they unsuccessfully appealed to President Donald Trump.

Compounding their grief is their anger at the way the Foreign Office and Northamptonshire Police have dealt with the matter. They are seeking a judicial review to establish how Mrs Sacoolas was allowed to leave the country so easily

Niall has, until now, felt unable to join in his family's campaign for justice. He is naturally reticent and, he admits, socially awkward, the very opposite of his extrovert twin brother.

But the grief and shock which has kept him house-bound for weeks has now turned to anger, which he is more easily able to express.

Speaking to The Mail on Sunday, he said: 'I'm not happy with how everything has happened. I've wanted to start grieving but now it's become so huge that I have to be involved. 

'When we were told Anne Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity it was a punch in the face. "Tough, she's not coming back, end of story. Go away and cry at home." That's what it really did feel like.

'It was really difficult hearing that and knowing we had nowhere left to go, nothing left to do. They left us to just cry and grieve in silence. I'm angry at the higher-ups of the world who just don't seem to care at all about what's happening.

'It was swept under the carpet and that's what really got to me. It made me angry. Harry lost his life. We've lost everything. I want to know who decided this was OK to do this to us.' 

Appealing directly to Mrs Sacoolas, Niall has begged her to 'do the right thing'. 

'We want for this to be over, to live our lives the best way we can. We can't do that unless you cooperate and help us. This all could have been avoided if you had just stayed here and done the right thing. Although that time's passed you can still put an end to all of this.'

Softly-spoken Niall, who works for a steel fabrication firm, is only now gradually beginning to understand what he has lost.

Darker than his twin, there is still a striking physical similarity to the cheeky blond who stands by his side in all of the family's treasured photographs.

Initially he seems unsure whether he will be able to be interviewed at all – he has barely discussed his brother's death yet with anyone.

But when he starts talking, he is eloquent, opinionated and tearful.

'We always had so much fun,' he says. 'I do miss basic, simple chats with him about nothing and everything. I didn't realise how much it meant to me at the time. It was good. I was lucky.

'I miss his voice the most. It made me feel at home. He was always cracking a smile. He was so content and it helped everyone else be happy, seeing how easily he took life… He just went for it like it was nothing. That's how he lived every day and I aspire to be like that. I miss him.'

Niall describes his regret that the brothers had naturally grown apart as they became teenagers with different interests.

They had lived with their mother Charlotte and stepdad Bruce after their parents separated when they were 13 months, but remained close to their father Tim and stepmother Tracey. 

The two families, including the twins' four step-siblings, lived just a couple of miles from each other.

Birthdays and Christmases were celebrated twice so everyone was involved, and there were holidays to Turkey, Miami, Crete, Paris and Mexico, and an annual seaside trip to Weymouth. 

They rode around the village together on BMX bikes and scooters. Even a move to separate bedrooms aged eight lasted only two nights before they decided they'd rather be together.

'Harry would always smile in pictures while I'd be miserable,' Niall jokes. 'He was loud, obnoxious, funny and happy and I was quiet, boring, sad and unhappy.'

Harry, who loved anything on wheels, got his first mini-motorbike aged seven. At 12, it was upgraded to a dirt bike.

'It worried me, seeing him on it. But he had no fear.'

Otherwise, Harry spent hours on his computer, while Niall was more interested in being with his friends. They rarely spent much time together, but Harry's protective instinct remained.

He knew me very well. He never pushed me to do anything or go anywhere but would be on the sidelines when needed. In shops, I'd pick the stuff I wanted and Harry would go to the till for me as I struggled with things like that.

'At family parties or events I'd sit next to him and if someone talked to me I could say, "Harry, what do you think?" and he'd take over.'

After Harry got his first proper motorbike at 16, there were two accidents – one involving a 4x4 which came round a bend in the middle of the road. 'It was never his fault and both times the other driver admitted liability. Harry saw the 4x4 coming and knew to let go of the bike and throw himself into the grass verge. 

'The second time a car pulled out in front of him on a roundabout. That's how accomplished he was as a rider – he knew his limits.' Niall moved out of the family home in April to live with friends in the nearby village of Croughton, a mile from the US intelligence base.

Harry would regularly drop by on one of his rides. The pair would chat about their day and Harry would offer to bring round discounted food from the service station, or give Niall money. 

'That sort of thing made him happy. We'd also begun to talk properly again and it was getting really good – we were turning into adults. If I could say anything to him now, it would be to say I'm sorry I didn't appreciate him more while he was here. Those short times we spent together really meant a lot to me.'

On August 27, it had been a beautiful summer's day and Harry dropped in to see Niall shortly after 7pm. He stayed just five minutes, not even taking off his helmet.

'I was in my dressing gown on the sofa and we chatted basic nonsense. I'd hoped he might stay, but he wanted to get off. It was, "All right, mate. Not sure why I'm here, so, see you later."'

Two hours later Niall received several calls from his parents to say Harry had been in an accident. 'I wasn't too concerned. It was, "Oh, another one?" But realising it had happened close by, he grabbed his things and left the house.

'I could see the blue lights in the sky, and ran to the police car which was blocking the main road. Beyond it down the road was a 4x4 and around 20 people, so I knew he was down there. I spoke to a policewoman and said, "That's my brother. What's going on?"

'She said, "Well, he's breathing and he's screaming so he's conscious." She basically said to go to hospital and it would be all right.'

Niall drove with his parents to Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital, arriving around 10.15pm. 'Even then it didn't feel bad. In a few minutes Harry would come out looking like a mummy and we could laugh at him.'

But at 11.30pm, their hopes evaporated when the doctors gently told them that, despite the efforts of a 16-strong team, Harry had died. 'It didn't sink in. I started comforting my parents instinctively. I can't tell you how it felt. I still don't think I know.

'They took us to see him, and he was lying on a table with a bit of a bloody lip. His helmet had protected his face, but knowing his body was so broken was one of the worst things about it.

'I called him a silly b*****d. I said, "What are you doing, man? I've got to work in the morning and you're doing this to me." I told him he'd really p***ed me off. He was warm at first. That was difficult. You can't tell me someone's dead when I'm looking straight at them and they're warm.'

Wryly, Niall adds: 'I'd always believed he'd die on his bike. I just thought it would be in 60 years.'

A policeman had confided Harry hadn't been at fault, which had been some comfort. It meant that, when the family promised they'd get justice for him, they naively assumed it would be straightforward. Certainly they have behaved with astonishingly measured dignity given the circumstances.

Mrs Sacoolas was informed of Harry's death by Northamptonshire Police the following day and initially had been remorseful and co-operative.

Police wanted to charge her with death by dangerous driving, which could have meant a custodial sentence. But six days after Harry's death, unaware that there were questions already being raised behind the scenes over Mrs Sacoolas's diplomatic status, the family requested the charge was reduced to death by careless driving, which usually involves a suspended sentence and would avoid separating her from her children.

But in the end, neither was possible. Mrs Sacoolas left the UK around a week later – reportedly on a US military plane – claiming diplomatic immunity. The family were not informed until ten days later, and there are now serious questions over whether the Foreign Office's advice to the police – namely, that Mrs Sacoolas was entitled to such immunity – was correct.

The family has now requested a judicial review into the Foreign Office's decision, and has referred Northamptonshire Police to the Independent Office for Police Conduct over its role in allowing Mrs Sacoolas to leave.

The family's spokesman, Radd Seiger, is travelling to the US today to discuss the possibility of bringing a civil case against Mrs Sacoolas and a separate misconduct action against the American authorities.

The demands of such a high-profile campaign are, undoubtedly, delaying the family's ability to grieve. But at some point, Niall knows they will have to confront the fact Harry has gone.

'We're spending all day, every day, fighting for Harry so it's like he's constantly around us. He'd be ecstatic at what my parents have done.

'I'm thankful they have that strength. They tell me they get it from Harry. I don't think I have any fight or energy – I just plod along following what they do. But staying quiet in the shadows is worse for me than doing good. It's about time I said thank you and got involved. I want the truth.'

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Wow, Parents shocked to discover adopted daughter has an identical twin

Chinese twin sisters who were separated as babies and adopted by two US families before meeting for the first time as ten-year-olds now see each other 'several times a year' and have 'astonishing' similarities, their families have said.

Gracie Rainsberry and Audrey Doering, now aged 13, grew up hundreds of miles apart after being found in two different places and taken to the same orphanage in China.

Audrey grew up nearly 1,500 miles away from her sister in Wausau, Wisconsin, while Gracie lives in Richland, Washington.

Now a new TV show examining long lost families sees the girls travel to London to be tested by experts specializing in identical twins.

The twins visited St Thomas' hospital in central London in April, for the ITV series Long Lost Family to meet expert Professor Tim Spector to conduct tests looking at whether nature or nurture make up their personality and behaviors.

During the trip their bone density, balance, grip, lung capacity and eye sight were tested and compared.  


Their new families had no idea the girls had a sibling until they were aged 10, when Audrey's mother, Jennifer Doering, found a photo of both youngsters together as babies, posing with their Chinese foster mom.

The pair were reunited live on air 'Good Morning America' in December 2017 after speaking to each other for the first time via FaceTime.

The two sisters, who both wear glasses, had even arranged to wear identical outfits for their first face-to-face encounter since their separation.  

Despite their upbringing in different parts of the country and not regularly seeing each other until the age of 10, the girls' parents say they act and behave similarly.

During their first reunion he twins first found out they both love chicken Alfredo as well as mac 'n' cheese.

They now meet up several times a year, including going to summer camps together, and Audrey went to Gracie's home for Christmas last year.

Audrey said she misses her sister when they are apart and that the only difference between them is their dress sense.

She told the Mirror: 'I just love being together with her. When we're not together I miss her a lot. We speak or text every day. We have this connection, it's like she's part of me.

'The only way we're different is I dress up more than Gracie. I like wearing girly clothes and she wears more sporty clothes.' 

Mrs Doering found out her daughter had a sibling when the schoolgirl asked for a sister for Christmas.

Instead Mrs Doering wanted to give her daughter a copy of her 'finding ad', which is an image published in Chinese newspapers when a baby is placed in an orphanage in a bid to find the parents.

She managed to track down a copy of the ad and was shocked to find it included a picture of not just one, but two babies wearing matching outfits. 

Mrs Doering said: 'We've been astonished at how alike they are. They talk the same, like the same things, right down to their favorite food and subjects.

'They are laughing one minute and crying the next. They both get nervous a lot too, and when they do they push their glasses up their noses in exactly the same way.'

The Doerings dug further and found that the other baby in the picture had a birth date close to Audrey's and shared her congenital heart condition. 

They contacted the Rainsberrys and broke the news to their daughter.

Nicole Rainsberry, Gracie's mother, added: 'It was amazing to me that math was both their favorite subject and despite both having heart conditions that they were amazing athletes.' 

Gracie said her sister is like 'another part of me' and that they regularly meet up.

She said: 'I'm not sure how to explain it. Getting to have her is like having another part of me. Whenever we talk and get together, I just feel a connection. 

'I can talk to her about a lot of things and I know she will help me through it, and I feel I can do the same for her.'

Describing the moment the pair were reunited in 2017, Mrs Doering she was stunned at the similarities between Gracie and Audrey even in that initial meeting.

She said: 'When both girls came up on the screen it was an incredible moment. They just looked at each other and started crying.

'Both had their hair in ponytails to one side, and were wearing the same pair of glasses.

'Even though we live in different parts of the country, they spoke in exactly the same way. Their mannerisms were exactly the same and they even cried the same way.'

Long Lost Family Twins: What Happened Next, ITV tonight at 9pm (GMT), 5pm (EST) and 2pm (Pacific Time).

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Girl designs Christmas cards to raise money for room for disabled brother

A girl is designing Christmas cards to raise money for an accessible bedroom and bathroom for her disabled younger brother. Nine-year-old Evie Haynes has designed the cards to sell in local shops, to help raise £10,000 for an extension for her disabled brother. Evie loves to draw, and wanted to help out her five-year-old little brother Jack, who has cerebral palsy and has suffered from seizures all his life. Their mum Hayley Haines has applied for a £30,000 grant from Wiltshire Council for renovation work at their family home in Trowbridge, Wilts. They want to give Jack his own accessible bedroom and bathroom. But the family still need to raise a further £10,000 of their own before the work can take place. And little Evie wanted to get involved with helping her brother – so has drawn her own, colourful Christmas card design to sell at her school and in local shops. The Mead Primary School pupil said: ‘I wanted to help my brother Jack as he has trouble getting around.

‘I enjoy drawing and wanted to be a part of the fundraising my mum is doing.’ And mum-of-two Hayley said: ‘Evie loves doing her drawing and is really creative, and she was so keen to help her brother. ‘She is just an amazing big sister, and although a huge majority of my time is taken up by caring for Jack, she never complains and is always willing to help. ‘The number of times she has had to come to hospital with us in the middle of the night if Jack has had a seizure is too much to count. ‘But she still goes to school as normal the next day with a smile on her face.’ Hayley added: ‘These home improvements would make life so much easier for all of us. ‘We live in a two-bedroom house, so at the moment Jack shares with me and Evie has her own space. ‘I would love for Jack to be able to be more independent and have his own room with a specialised bed and an accessible bathroom. ‘I also would love a ramp going into the garden as he just loves playing outside.’ Now Evie’s Christmas cards have been designed, Hayley is hoping to find a company who will be willing to print them. She said: ‘I am really hoping someone or some company will be able to print maybe around 500 of them for us. ‘I do feel it is a lot to ask but if someone was willing to help it would mean so much to us.

‘The local Budgens store has already said we may be able to sell them there if we can get them printed, and Evie and Jack will both sell them at their school’s Christmas fairs.’ Jack had his first seizure when he was just seven hours old. This caused his condition, as well as epilepsy and a tendency to suffer from life-threatening seizures. Over the past year Jack and his family have been in and out of hospital as he was having regular seizures, but he has now been put on new medication which has stabilised him.

But he still has difficulties with his mobility and requires round-the-clock care. He receives visits from Julia’s House nurses to help him with his condition, but his mum has recently given up her job as a special needs nurses to be his full-time carer. Hayley added: ‘Jack is such a happy and social little boy. Despite his health and physical challenges he is a very determined and brave little boy. ‘Today Jack uses a walking frame and sometimes a wheelchair to get about. ‘Stairs can be a struggle especially when he is tired, which is why the extension would be so useful.’

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