Actress Kate Winslet has donated £17,000 to a mother facing a high energy bill to power her daughter’s life support devices.
Caroline Hunter has been warned by Clackmannanshire Council That her bill may reach the high amount next year.
Her daughter, Freya, 12, has severe cerebral palsy and is dependent on receiving oxygen for chronic breathing problems.
Hunter said she was confused when the Titanic actress stepped in when she heard about their struggle on the BBC.
Winslet donated £17,000 to the family’s GoFundMe page and contacted them to wish them well.
Hunter, 49, said: “Our journey as a family has been very traumatic and I feel like I am finished at this point in my life.
“When I heard about the money, I burst into tears – I thought it wasn’t real. I keep thinking is it real?”
The hunters live in a large board house in Telic Poultry – which is not energy efficient – which has space for Freya’s gear.
Currently, it costs them £6,500 a year to run the equipment and heat the house – although Hunter said she’s turned off the heating in most rooms to save money.
Although they work full time at moderate pay, they do not get the same support as those on low incomes.
Hunter also fears that a possible winter blackout in the event of reduced gas supplies – as a result of the Russian war on Ukraine – could jeopardize Freya’s care.
In addition to cerebral palsy, Freya relies on receiving oxygen for breathing problems – especially during the night.
The family needs the help of at least two nurses or NHS staff through self-directed support – a form of social care.
Staff monitor Freya’s heart rate as well as oxygen levels and perform frequent suctions to keep the airway clear.
In recent months, only Freya’s room has been heated in order to keep her and her staff comfortable, but Hunter said they had to cut back on time.
“We’re still freezing and haven’t even reached low temperatures yet,” Hunter said. “I’m biting off staff so I don’t turn on the heating unless it’s absolutely necessary.
“The council has put in solar panels to help with the blackout but don’t think it will help with the bill.”
The family is one of millions across the UK preparing for a difficult winter of rising energy bills that experts predict will plunge many into extreme poverty and cause an increase in avoidable deaths.
Winslet, who lives in a quiet village in West Sussex, is the patron of Family Haven, a charity formed to help disadvantaged and vulnerable families in Gloucestershire.