Kate Winslet has donated £17,000 to a mother facing a sky-high energy bill to keep her cerebral palsy-hit daughter alive on life support.

Carolynne Hunter, from Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, was warned by the council that her bill could rise from £6,500 to £17,000 next year.

Her daughter Freya, 12, has severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems. 

Miss Hunter said she was overwhelmed when the Titanic actress, 47, intervened upon hearing their struggle reported on BBC Scotland.

Winslet donated £17,000 to the family’s GoFundMe page and contacted Miss Hunter to wish them well.

Miss Hunter, 49, said: ‘Our journey as a family has been very traumatic and I just feel done at this point in my life. 

Carolynne Hunter, from Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire, was warned by the council that her bill could rise from £6,500 to £17,000 next year

Miss Hunter said she was overwhelmed when the Titanic actress, 47, intervened upon hearing their struggle reported on BBC Scotland

Miss Hunter said she was overwhelmed when the Titanic actress, 47, intervened upon hearing their struggle reported on BBC Scotland

Her daughter Freya, 12, has severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems

Her daughter Freya, 12, has severe cerebral palsy and relies on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems

‘When I heard about the money I just burst into tears – I thought it wasn’t even real. I’m still thinking “Is this real?”‘ 

The Hunters live in a large council house in Tillicoultry, which is not energy efficient, so there is space for Freya’s equipment.

At present it costs them £6,500 a year to run the kit and heat the home, though Miss Hunter said she had turned the heating off in most rooms to save money.

Although she works full-time in the third sector on a moderate wage, she does not receive the same support as those on low incomes. 

Miss Hunter also worries that possible winter power cuts in the event of reduced gas supply, a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, could put Freya’s care at risk.

She said: ‘We’re still freezing and we’re not even at minus temperatures yet. I am nipping at the staff not to put the heating on unless it’s necessary.

‘The council have put solar panels up to help but I don’t think it’ll help with the bill.’

Miss Winslet’s extraordinary generosity means the family will be able to go into next year knowing they can afford the life support Freya so desperately needs.

Miss Hunter, 49, said: 'When I heard about the money I just burst into tears - I thought it wasn't even real. I'm still thinking "Is this real?"'

Miss Hunter, 49, said: ‘When I heard about the money I just burst into tears – I thought it wasn’t even real. I’m still thinking “Is this real?”‘

Winslet donated £17,000 to the family's GoFundMe page and contacted Miss Hunter to wish them well

Winslet donated £17,000 to the family’s GoFundMe page and contacted Miss Hunter to wish them well

Miss Winslet, who lives in a quiet village in West Sussex, is estimated to be worth around £50million

Miss Winslet, who lives in a quiet village in West Sussex, is estimated to be worth around £50million

The star also got in touch to wish the family well. Miss Hunter added: ‘I didn’t speak out to get donations but at the same time I have to make sure that Freya is OK. 

‘I’m going to be helped but what about everyone else? I wanted the Government to pay for it and do the right thing – it shouldn’t have to be a celebrity that steps in.’

Miss Winslet, who lives in a quiet village in West Sussex, is estimated to be worth around £50million.

She married Edward Abel Smith, a nephew of business tycoon Richard Branson, in 2012. The couple have one child together, Bear Blaze, who was born in 2013.

The star also has two other children from previous marriages.

Her eldest, Mia, was born in 2000 during her first marriage, to film director Jim Threapleton. She also had a child, Joe, in 2003 with second husband, movie director Sam Mendes.

Miss Winslet is patron of the Family Haven, a charity formed to help disadvantaged and vulnerable families in Gloucestershire.

WHAT IS CEREBRAL PALSY? 

Cerebral palsy is the name for a set of conditions affecting movement and co-ordination stemming from a problem with the brain that takes place before, during or soon after birth. 

Symptoms are not typically obvious immediately after a child is born — but instead normally become noticeable after two or three years.

They include delays in reaching development milestones, such as:

  • not sitting by eight months; 
  • not walking by 18 months;
  • appearing too stiff or too floppy;
  • walking on tip-toes;
  • weak arms or legs;
  • fidgety, jerky or clumsy movements;
  • random, uncontrolled movements;

Difficulty speaking, swallowing or seeing — along with learning difficulties — can also be symptoms. 

Cerebral palsy symptoms can be caused by a number of things and are not necessarily an indication of the condition, which can occur if a child’s brain does not develop normally while in the womb, or is damaged during or soon after birth.

Causes include bleeding in the baby’s brain, reduced blood and oxygen supply, infection caught by the mother while pregnant, asphyxiation during a difficult birth, meningitis or a serious head injury – though the precise cause is often not clear. 

There is no cure currently, but physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy and medication are often used as treatment. 

Each person living with the condition is affected in a different way, but generally speaking most children live into adult life and some can live for many decades. 



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