Friends and family give their time to help Gemma

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They say that when you need help, you really find out who your friends are.

Well, the Cook family know they have some fantastic friends and relations after they all got together to ensure that nine-year-old Gemma could come home following life-saving surgery to remove a tumour from her brain.

It’s been a long haul for Gemma. Diagnosed with a rare condition called tuberous sclerosis, where tumours form on various parts of the body, she also has epilepsy and autism.

In December, she had surgery in Bristol but developed complications which left her fighting for life in intensive care.

Finally given the all-clear by doctors to return home, there was the practical problem of how she would be able to cope.

In simple terms, because Gemma has difficulty moving, it wouldn’t work unless a room was created for her downstairs.

So what happened?

Friends and family created their very own version of the TV makeover show DIY SOS and set to converting the garage into a space for Gemma to call her own.

From plastering to electrics, people have gladly come forward to offer their services free of charge.

Their only reward will be to see Gemma smile when she can move into her new downstairs room.

And generosity of time and spirit hasn’t stopped there.

While the garage is being converted, Gemma’s mum Claire’s plan was to ask the Hannah’s Holiday Homes charity if they could be put up for a few weeks.

But as the charity’s Hayling Island home doesn’t open until March 11, Eaton Aerospace, which supports the charity, is instead paying for Gemma and Claire to stay at the Langstone Hotel.

‘People have been amazing,’ says a hugely grateful Claire.

Isn’t it great to see a community come together like this?

It’s what we aim to highlight with our long-running We Can Do It campaign.

So we’re delighted to carry such a positive story on page 13, along with a lovely photo of Gemma, her mum and some of those who are helping her.