Family and friends of a determined seven-year-old girl turned out in force on Friday to help her raise awareness of a rare medical condition.

Abbie Hampshire, from Thirsk, was born with congenital scoliosis – curvature of the spine – and when she was 18-months-old her parents raised concerns as she was struggling to lift herself from the floor, couldn’t walk, and breathing took a lot of effort.

Her medical team originally put the symptoms down to her wearing plaster spinal casts full time to help her scoliosis, but her family pushed for further tests, and Abbie was eventually diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH).

Darlington and Stockton Times: Abbie Hampshire with mum and dad, Andrea and Ben, and brothers Freddie, left, and Joey, at Sowerby Sports Village before setting off on her walk of hope

The condition causes high blood pressure in the vessels connecting the heart and lungs – the pulmonary arteries – which then become stiff and thickened, or blocked by blood clots. This makes it difficult for them to expand, putting increased strain on the right side of the heart and making it harder to pump blood into the lungs to pick up oxygen.

PH is rare, with about 8,000 people in the UK receiving a diagnosis, and each year a special day takes place to raise awareness of the condition. This year it was on Friday, and Abbie was joined by mum and dad, Andrea and Ben, brothers Freddie, 12, and Joey, nine, family friends, teachers and her dance instructors, in a walk for hope.

She set herself the target of completing ten laps of the running track at Sowerby Sports Village, a challenge she completed with the help of her powered chair, Ruby.

Luckily, the winds and rain of Storm Ciaran had passed over, and the sun shone brightly for the group of walkers.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Abbie Hampshire with friends and family on her walk for hope to raise awareness of Pulmonary Hypertension

Mum Andrea said awareness of PH "shouldn't just be a one-day thing". "As a PH community, because we are so spread out across the UK, it is really important wherever we are to something on this day," she added. "There may also be people who are not aware of it at all, because it's a hidden disability."

Abbie is now under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and is medically stable.

"Abbie’s PH is a result of her restricted lung development, which is in turn, a result of her new diagnosis of progressive kyphoscoliosis," said Andrea. "We have been told the risks outweigh the benefits of any spinal operation now, so PH will be part of her life for as long as we can foresee. But with the diagnosis, treatment and supports in place, Abbie can do so much more and feel like a little girl with dreams, interests and strengths to pursue.

"She is most certainly living life to the fullest in her own unique way. She is always smiling or being funny, and she even has a stubborn streak that pops out every now and then. She is incredibly determined and will stand up for what she believes in."

For more information about PH, see – the website of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK.