Rochford’s Sarah Gearing is undergoing surgery today in Barcelona thanks to the generosity of supporters.

Sarah, 40, lives with with a rare genetic disease Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which makes her body’s connective tissues collapse.

Sarah has been living in constant pain for 20 years. She was diagnosed with the condition when she was born, but it did not show until she was in her late teens. She has gastric and digestion problems, chronic dislocation of joints, and pain and seizures that leave her disorientated.

Last week she flew to Barcelona to prepare for her operation in Tekon Hospital. The surgery involves a total neck fusion and procedures to put her brain back where it belongs and to permanently relieve the compression on her spinal cord.

Her bravery and unwavering hope has touched the hearts of Rochford community, who came together and organised numerous fundraising events to support her surgery and post-surgery costs.

Southend Airport also generously offered Sarah and her two carers a free trip to Barcelona.

To date, the community has raised more than £129,000 - an impressive achievement in less than three months.

Although Sarah has left the country, residents have continued to fundraise for Sarah.

Sarah Colston, 42, director of the choir group Funky Voices, organised a fundraising event for Sarah last Wednesday.

She said: “Sarah was a member of Funky Voices, we organised a group of 50 to sing at Rochford train station from 6pm until 7pm.

“We raised more than £350 from bucket and online donations. It was something we want to do for Sarah.

“She is forever positive, I always see her smile. She has been a member of Funky Voices for nearly two years, she is always very enthusiastic.

“She is so brave, I really admire her.

“She always has time for others, if someone’s not happy she would always comfort them.

“She has a friend who also had EDS and she helped her raise money.

“I wish her good luck, I know she will pull through. She’s mentally strong, and it’s this attitude that will help her get through.”