Brother and sister, Sam and Alice, who both have life-limiting Juvenile Batten disease, were taken for a tour around South Yorkshire Police's headquarters, getting to sit in a police helicopter and see the horses for the force's mounted section as part of the visit.
Sam, 10, and his sister Alice, five, both visited with their sister Scarlett, eight, and their mother, Nat, to learn all about what officers get up to, to keep everybody safe after telling family that one of their wishes was to spend a day with police.
The family also got to spend some time with the force's colleagues at South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service as part of the experience.
Batten disease is an extremely rare genetic condition affecting between 0.2 to seven people in every 100,000, and primarily affects the nervous system. The condition, which is inherited, usually develops in children after they reach around five or six years’ old.
Sam was first diagnosed with the disease in 2018. Then, in January this year, following a change in eyesight and behaviour, Nat received the heart-breaking news that five-year-old Alice also had the disease.
Children who are diagnosed with the condition usually have a life expectancy of their late teens to early twenties, according to the Beyond Batten Disease Foundation.
Talking about their visit, the siblings' mother Nat said: “It was an absolutely fantastic day, Inspector Berry really did go above and beyond to organise something truly magical and memorable for everyone involved.
“All the officers involved were wonderful. They had so much time for us and answered all the questions the children had for them. It’s an experience that we won’t ever forget and we really did make some fantastic memories.”
Temporary Inspector Rachael Berry, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The odds of one child having Battens disease is 1 in 50,000. It’s difficult to comprehend that two of Natalie’s children are affected by this. When I heard that Alice had been diagnosed, I just wanted to be able to do something to make them smile.
“Sam’s eyesight is deteriorating rapidly so we wanted to arrange the visit as soon as possible. This meant we kept everything outdoors to stick to Covid-19 measures, but no way did this hamper the day – it was fantastic to watch the kids enjoying themselves.
“Sam and his sisters were able to sit in the police helicopter before it set off, which was a dream come true for them.”
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