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Watch little Maryam, born without legs in war torn Syria, take her first steps as she learns to walk with the help from a Huddersfield man

Money raised by Huddersfield folk paid for her treatment

A charity set up by a war photojournalist from Huddersfield will fund vital help for amputees in Syria.

The Syrian Refugee Relief Fund in Huddersfield was devised by Holme Valley-born Will Wintercross, a former student at Greenhead College.

It has now raised £20,000 which will keep three specialist clinics that specialise in fitting prosthetic limbs – mainly to war victims – going for two months.

Will, 34, was inspired to set up the charity when he met a grandmother in Syria called Jamila Shacker. One of her sons was killed in the conflict and she has ended up caring for her own children and 16 grandchildren.

READ MORE: Syrian Refugee Relief Fund launched by Holme Valley-born photo-journalist Will Wintercross

“She was an amazing woman,” said Will. “I knew as I was interviewing that I needed to set up a charity to help the people of Syria. She had a photo of her son who had been killed by shelling. She said that when he died her heart died too.”

A second son was also killed and then their family home was shelled. Jamila and the family then fled Turkey.

Will’s dad Brian has been a massive help setting up the charity and organising much of its work. He lives with wife Margaret in the Holme Valley and they have three other sons Robert, Mathew and Dan who also all attended Greenhead College.

One of the first to benefit from the charity has been four-year-old Syrian refugee Maryam who was born with no legs.

But now she is learning to walk thanks to the generosity of people from Huddersfield.

READ MORE: Syrian artist who came to Huddersfield unveils paintings depicting country's civil war

A video shows her taking her first tentative steps with her new prosthetic limbs.

Little is known about Maryam, who lived in Idlep, which has been ravaged by the war. It is thought her family fled to Turkey with thousands of other refugees and she was taken to one of the three clinics.

Her treatment was paid for by the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund which raised £20,000 through a series of events.

The charity sent the money to Syria Relief, the Manchester-based charity which co-ordinates the distribution of much of the aid sent from the UK and which has a network of management and logistics staff on the ground inside Syria. It is using the money to fund the clinics for two months.

Tasneem Albarazi, of Syria Relief, said: “Maryam is four, she is from Idlep and her condition is congenital. She was born with no legs.

“More and more people are using the clinics. Most patients live close to the border and are brought in by desperate friends and relatives. They just turn up, asking for help.”

Will, who works for the Daily Telegraph and has covered the war in Syria, said: “There is such deep hatred between the opposing sides in Syria that the troubles could last for decades and our help, however small, will always be needed.

“Maryam is a little girl who is a refugee and in a dreadful situation. The need for help out there is so desperate.”

Most of the money raised by the Huddersfield charity will fund treatment for amputees who have lost limbs in the conflict.

Will’s dad Brian, a trustee of the charity, said some of the money was raised by Will and his new wife, Lucy, asking for donations rather than wedding presents when they got married last year.

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And more has come from a number of events across Huddersfield.

He added: “We have raised the funds through a range of sources including a dinner and auction, a church fete, a carol service, a village fete, donations, and a sponsored run.

“We’ve only been going less than a year, spent the major part of our funds and are now planning more activities.”

Syria Relief managing director Ajmal Ramzan said: “We would like to thank the Syrian Refugee Relief Fund for providing two months’ worth of financial support to our prosthetic limb clinics.

“Our three prosthetic limb clinics assist over 60 patients each month, but numbers are increasing and in January 109 amputees were admitted to our clinics.

“As the violence inside Syria escalates the need for our services is ever more critical.”


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