Disabled girl’s dream of getting a ‘bionic hand’

Football-mad ... talented youngster Tate Willis was born with part of her left arm missing
Football-mad ... talented youngster Tate Willis was born with part of her left arm missing

Campaigners are raising money to buy an 11-year-old girl a ‘bionic hand’.

Tate Willis was born with part of her left arm missing and the ‘Give Tate A Hand’ initiative is seeking to raise £27,000.

She has set her heart on a Star Wars-style prosthesis which works on arm pulses, but the NHS is not able to fund this.

To help her dream come true a football tournament, sanctioned by the Sussex FA, is being staged on Sunday, August 26.

The six-a-side fund-raiser will take place at Eastbourne Sports Park in Cross Levels Way and some 50 teams have already registered to play in the ‘Tate Cup’.

Football is the youngster’s great passion – and she has shown a remarkable aptitude for the game, becoming part of Brighton and Hove Albion’s Disability Squad.

Tate had been insular, withdrawn and lacking in self-esteem. She was also subjected to bullying because of her disability.

But football, and the joy she finds in playing, is changing all that.

Tate lives in Hailsham with her parents Alex and Jools Willis and five siblings, and is due to start at Heathfield Community College in September.

Her mother said: “What Brighton have done for her has completely transformed her life – we’re so grateful to the club.

“Her confidence has improved enormously and so has her school work.

“A bionic hand would change her quality of life – simple things people take for granted like turning the page of a book or opening a packet of crisps.”

In April, Tate was named the winner of this year’s Albion in the Community Award thanks to her efforts at AITC’s football sessions for people with a disability.

Not only did she get to meet her heroes from the club’s Premier League and WSL 2 teams, but she was also invited by manager Chris Hughton to visit the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre and watch a training session.

Tate was nominated for the award by Phil Broom, AITC’s disability development clubs officer, after she impressed her coaches with not only with her skill and commitment on the pitch, but also her resilience and determination off it.

To find out more about the football tournament and how to support Tate visit https://www.thetatecup.co.uk/