Willofest: A festival of fun and great sounds for Willow’s ‘Sweet 16’

BY CALUM FRASER
calum@slpmedia.co.uk

A multi-disabled girl had a sweet 16 to remember.

Willow Bush, of Plumstead, lives with Aicardi syndrome, a rare genetic condition causing her to experience severe and uncontrolled epilepsy and learning and mobility disabilities.

She is mostly non-verbal, but music lifts her spirit as she sings and dances when she listens to it.

Willow’s mum, Viv Bush, and the Make-A-Wish foundation called on the public to help recreate a festival for the teen to enjoy away from crowds that can disturb her.

Artists including Sour Kix, Sheya Lily, Magpie, Nye, Alice, Kessica and Kara, as well as street food trucks, entertainers and face painters all stepped in to create Willowfest.

Viv said: “Willow had a lovely time at her wish. At the front of the crowd, she was surrounded by her friends, and they were all enjoying it with her.

“I can’t quite believe it’s happened. This is a memory that everyone who came to the festival will share forever.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of good-hearted people that have come together to make this happen.”

Willow had her first seizure when she was four months old. Her life changed from then.

She now experiences them several times a day, including seizures where she falls to the floor with no warning.

The event took place on October 6 in a barn in Tunbridge Wells.

Viv said: “It’s been an fantastic celebration of Willow’s life. The doctor who diagnosed her was here, her old speech and language therapist, her nurses, her old teachers and of course friends and family.

“Seeing Willow happy has been the best thing. “I would like to thank Make-A-Wish wholeheartedly for making this happen. They make wishes come true and that’s phenomenal.

Thank you to all the people who gave up their time and generosity.”

Helen Gee, from the Make-a-Wish charity, said: “We all love music, and enjoying it live is an incredible experience, which Willow deserves to experience like anyone else.

“Children like Willow endure things that no child should face, and we believe that by providing quality time away from the daily realities of living with their condition we can give a child hope for the future, strength to cope and resilience to fight their condition.”

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