Little Tillie Vasey is bravely battling back after a horrific dog attack that almost claimed her life.
And the five-year-old even persuaded doctors to let her out of hospital for an hour to say a huge “thank you” to the Ribbleton community which rallied round after her terrifying mauling by a neighbour’s pet.
Tillie joined family, friends and neighbours at the start of a sponsored walk around Moor Park, even though she remains under treatment at the Royal Preston nine days after she was saved from the jaws of a pitbull cross.
She suffered serious injuries, including a fractured skull, and is expected to stay in hospital for a few days yet as medics try to combat a serious infection.
In an exclusive interview with the Post, her tearful mum Leanne said: “I’ve never experienced anything like these last few days. It’s been horrible.
“But Tillie is slowly recovering. She’s being so brave after all she’s been through.
“I can’t thank people enough for the support they’ve given us. Everyone has been wonderful.”
Tillie was playing out near her home in Westfield Drive on the Brookfield estate in Preston when the dog attacked. She suffered severe head and facial injuries, but was saved by barber Warren Hadfield who was visiting a friend in the same street and jumped in to fight the dog off.
The reluctant hero, who was not hurt, modestly told the Post: “Anyone would have done the same.”
But Leanne said: “I’m sure Warren saved her life. If he hadn’t jumped in and got the dog off her I think she would have been killed. She has a fractured skull and a brain infection which the doctors are treating with really strong antibiotics. I’m staying with her in hospital day and night.
“She won’t be ready to come home for at least the rest of this week. But she wanted to come out for a short while just to say thanks to everyone.
“The hospital staff have been absolutely wonderful. I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for her.
“When they said she could come out for an hour or so she couldn’t wait. She asked if she could walk with them a bit of the way, but that wasn’t allowed. She had to stay in her wheelchair.
“She is a lot better than she was, but she has started having nightmares about what happened. Her brother Leo, who saw it, is also having nightmares. It’s awful.”
Friends and neighbours got together to plan the 2.2-mile walk around Moor Park to raise money to buy toys to cheer Tillie up. Around 50 adults and children took part.
Co-organiser Wendy Moore said: “It’s a really close community where we live and everyone pulls together and helps each other. When we heard what happened to Tillie we just wanted to do something for her.
“She’s a lovely little girl and we hope that a few little presents will help her recover from what must have been an awful ordeal.”
Alison Peet, who also helped organise the walk, added: “Everyone is relieved that Tillie seems to be recovering well.”
While the community rallied round to organise the walk, one of Tillie’s classmates at Brookfield Primary School was climbing a mountain in the Lake District to raise money for her friend. Halle Wilson, four, was hoping to raise £200 to buy toys to help her in her convalescence during the long summer holidays.
After the dog attack on Sunday, July 15 on Westfield Drive, Preston, police arrested a 40-year-old woman.
She was detained on suspicion of having a dog dangerously out of control and has since been released pending further investigations.
The dog, which is thought by neighbours to be a pitbull cross, has not been put down and is being kept by police until their enquiries are complete.