A FUNDRAISING drive has been launched to help a young girl with an extremely rare condition.

April Benton, from Malton, is one of only nine children in the world suffering from bilateral striatal necrosis, which affects her mobility. The six-year-old was diagnosed with the condition after contracting a virus in 2014.

Her parents, Sarah and Paul, are now hoping to extend and adjust their home to cope with April's increasing needs with the help of a sponsored swim - covering the equivalent of the English Channel.

Sarah, who works at Karro Foods in Norton, said: "In December I pulled my back trying to carry April and had to take time of work.

"It made us realise that we need to adapt our home with an extension and wet room, as well as ramps, to enable us to deal with April's needs as she grows older."

April, who attends St Mary's RC School in Malton on a part-time basis, also needs specialised equipment, including an adapted car seat.

"At school she has a tablet and keyboard as she struggles to write and she has a reading board as she cannot hold books," Sarah said.

"April also has to wear a splint on her leg and uses a walking frame, but she can get tired very easily."

Sarah said April had good days and bad.

"At the moment her condition is fairly stable and she has regular physiotherapy and occupational therapy," she said.

"She has good days and not so good days when her muscles need strengthening, but she never complains.

"As April grows older she is more aware of things but she is always smiling and is a real credit to herself."

Sarah said that they did not know how April's condition would progress.

"As there is so little known she could remain stable or she could deteriorate dramatically shorten," she added.

Sarah said: "At the moment we don't know how much the improvement works are going to cost or what grant help we can get, however I was approached by Richard Scarth, who runs sports activities at St Mary's who offered to help."

Richard Scarth, who is also a personal trainer and sports physio, is organising a challenge for swimmers to complete the equivalent of the English Channel - 21 miles - at Derwent Pool in Norton, with the aim of raising £3,000 towards a wet room for April.

He said: "April is a very pleasant and amenable young lady.

"Sometimes April maybe tired but always remains very pleasant and as I have got to know her situation I decided maybe we could possibly make life a little easier by getting others to share their time and energy.

"I have discussed this regular swimmers of Norton pool who are thrilled to bits to attempt this feat so any donations will be gratefully appreciated. The aim is to start in April, for April, and hopefully include some of her classmates towards the end of the challenge."

Anyone who would like to make a donation can go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/richard-scarth-1