SHE was the miracle baby her parents had almost given up hope of having.
But joy turned to anguish when Aisling Norcup was born seven weeks prematurely, weighing a miniscule 2lb.
Rushed from Southend Hospital to Great Ormond Street Hospital, Aisling spent the first month of her life in intensive care, surrounded by doctors and nurses and having to be fed through a special tube.
Aisling’s mum Jo explained: “The problem was Aisling just wasn’t feeding. She wouldn’t take anything down.
“I had been 40 when I fell pregnant with Aisling. I never expected to have her and we were thrilled when we found out I was pregnant.
“But she just wasn’t growing enough in the womb. In the end the doctors told me I needed an emergency C-Section because she was too small.
“When Aisling was born she was so tiny and frail and it was so frightening. At times we didn’t know if she was going to make it but thanks to the care of the amazing doctors and nurses at GOSH she pulled through.”
Aisling’s stomach and feeding disorder gradually improved over time, although she had problems for the first few years of her life.
“She was very behind in walking and she didn’t talk until she was two,” said Jo. “But we had been warned she could be slow in developing, because she was premature.”
But the story for the Southend family has a happy ending.
Aisling, now about to turn 17, was finally able to give something back to the world-famous hospital which saved her life. She recently took to the stage to sing at a fundraising evening in aid of GOSH, held at Ambleside Social Club, in Southend.
A very nervous, but extremely determined Aisling took to the stage all by herself to perform two very poignant songs – Home by Gabriella Aplin and Hurt by Christina Aguilera.
Aisling, who is studying at sixth form and hopes to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, said: “It was an honour to be able to sing at the charity evening, although I wasn’t too sure I could do it at first and was very nervous.
“I’m a member of the Southend Girls Choir and should be used to performing in front of people. But when I’m with them, I have all the other members for support. It was different doing it all on my own.
“But knowing the fundraising evening was for GOSH gave me the strength to give it a shot. Knowing I was once a patient there myself spurred me on to perform.”
Aisling is now studying A-levels in Performing Arts, Drama and Theatre Studies, Psychology and Music.
“My ambition is to become a drama therapist and to help children that have gone through severe traumas,” she said.
“But my dream would also be to become a professional actress, just like Helen Mirren.”
Mum Jo was so proud to watch Aisling belt out her two songs before a packed audience: “To think she went from being so dangerously ill to singing in front of a room full of people made me cry with emotion,” she said.
“Aisling is our gift from God and we will forever be grateful to GOSH for saving her.”