A retired teacher is helping a disabled teenager whose great-great-grandfather saved her father’s life in a ‘sliding doors moment’ in World War Two.
Sue Frecklington’s father, Captain Philip Rogers, was a soldier in 1943 when he was stationed in Iceland to stop the Nazis from invading the country.
While on a training exercise Cpt Rogers, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, was caught in a blizzard that killed several members of his platoon.
By chance, local sheep farmer Meyvant Siggurdson came across Captain Rogers while searching for his flock and took him in.
After the war ended, the pair stayed in touch and in the decades that followed they exchanged letters and visited each other’s families.
Cpt Rogers’ daughter Sue also became pen pals with Mr. Siggurdson’s daughter Ragga when they were both 15.
Cpt Rogers died in 1986 aged 76 while Mr Siggurdson passed away several years ago.
Sue is now helping Mr. Siggurdson’s great-great-granddaughter Sunna, 17, who suffers from an extremely rare disease.
Sunna was diagnosed with Alternating Hemiplegia of Childhood (AHC), a neurological disorder, when she was two years old.
The condition, affecting one in a million children worldwide, causes repeated episodes of paralysis on one side of the body and involuntary muscle contractions that can last for days.
It causes episodes similar to epileptic seizures but also has symptoms similar to stroke, paralysis and Parkinson’s disease.
Sue, 75, is now raising vital funds to support Sunna, who is Mr. Siggurdson’s youngest descendant.
The retired teacher, from Lincoln, England, said: “Many soldiers were stationed in Iceland to stop Hitler progressing through to North America and my dad was one of them.
“He’d been trained in Arctic warfare, but one day there was this terrific snowstorm that killed many of the men in his platoon.”
“Thankfully a farmer spotted him when he was looking for his sheep and took him back to his farmhouse.
“They kept in touch ever since then and our families are still friends decades later.
“I think of their chance meeting that day as a sliding doors moment because if they hadn’t met my father would probably have died, I wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t have formed a friendship with their family.”
Sue, who has three grown-up children and five grandchildren, is dedicating her life to fundraising for Sunna and her family.
She said: “It’s some sort of paying back for my own life.
“I feel it’s in me. It’s something I’ve got to do to say thank you for me being here.”
“This illness is so tough on her family as the episodes can happen unexpectedly at any time and last between one minute to an hour or more.
“There is just no way of knowing and it causes Sunna a lot of pain when her muscles spasm.
“It’s very stressful but her family do everything they can to comfort her.
“Sunna is very poorly but she’s also such a super lass. She’s a lot of fun to be around and loves being outdoors on her wheelchair bike.
“I’m very aware that without Sunna’s great-great-grandfather, I wouldn’t even be here, so I wanted to pay them back for my life.”
“We were both approaching retirement age and I’ve always been into crafting, so we both thought we could start selling little things like cushions, wooden items, trinkets and jewelry to raise some money for the family.
“They know how grateful I am to them, and I know how grateful they are to me for what we’re now doing for Sunna.”
Sue and her husband Tony, 75, have raised £5,000 ($6,400) to help fund research into AHC and the couple hope to raise thousands more.
She said: “We’ve had so many lovely messages and interest in what we’re doing.
“I never in a million Sundays thought it would take off like this, but it’s great news for spreading awareness of AHC.
We’re so grateful and hope to continue to support our friends for years to come.”
Sunna’s mom Ragga Hjaltisdottir, Meyvant’s great-granddaughter, said water, sunlight and stress could trigger AHC episodes.
She said: “It’s like a human timebomb, we never know what’s going to happen.
“She has lots of limitations.
“Sue and Tony’s support is tremendous.
“We love them very much, they’re very dear to us.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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