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A little girl who was told she’d never walk again has taken her first steps

A girl who fell into a scalding hot bath has taken her first steps – seven years after doctors said she’d never walk again.

Tilly with her family

Tilly with her family


Miracle Tilly Sawford, from Bilborough, Nottingham, received fourth degree burns to 86 per cent of her body after a dodgy boiler burned the tot alive.

Tilly, now aged nine, was given just five per cent chance of survival after the horror accident when she was 15 months old.

But over 500 operations and seven years later, Tilly has taken her first steps after having her leg amputated in January this year.

Proud mum Emma Sawford ‘cried’ as she watched her daughter take four steps on her prosthetic without the support of her frame.

The 30-year-old said: “She only got her prosthetic in June this year.

“I’m so proud of her, she’s so inspirational.

“I cried when she took those four steps on her own without her frame.

“To go from being told she’d never walk again to seeing her let go of the bar is just incredible.

“She’s my hero.”

In 2009, Tilly was playing upstairs with her two brothers when she fell into a bath full of scalding water.

Miraculously, her face is the only part of her body which wasn’t burnt in the freak accident.

Emma, who threw Ann Summers parties before quitting work after Tilly’s accident, said: “I was always taking the kids all around the house with me, but on this occasion they were happy playing, so I left the three of them in the bathroom as I popped downstairs.

“Next thing I know, I heard this screaming so I ran upstairs and Tilly was in the bath.

Tilly in bandages after one of her operations

Tilly in bandages after one of her operations


“Steam was rising from the bath and she had no skin on.

“She looked like a raw piece of meat you feed to a lion.”

The bath had accidentally filled up after one of her siblings turned on the tap to wash his hands.

Little did they know – having only just moved into the house themselves – that a ‘faulty boiler’ meant the water reached full boil in a matter of seconds.

Emma added: “One of them went to the toilet but they were too small to reach the sink, so they washed their hands in the bath.

“They left it running and the pressure of the water jammed the plug, which meant it started to fill up.

“Tilly had then climbed on a bean bag in the bathroom and fallen into the bath.

“She became unconscious in my arms as I was on the phone to the ambulance and her eyes started rolling back.”

Paramedics arrived and rushed Tilly to hospital, where she spent the next six months in intensive care.

Emma – now a mum of five – said: “We were told she wouldn’t pull through.

“I was absolutely devastated, we’d waited so long for a little girl and our family was complete.

“You always think you’re going to go before your children and it was heartbreaking.”

Emma and husband Kyle, 29, were told Tilly would die seven times.

Emma added: “It wasn’t until four months later when things started to change.

Tilly playing with her sisters

Tilly playing with her sisters


“She was still in hospital and had a blood clot to one of her major organs, but only then did her body start responding to medicine.”

The couple, who’ve been together since they were 11 years old, were ‘over the moon’ when they finally brought their little girl back home at the end of 2009.

But that wasn’t the end of the road for Tilly, who still goes to hospital four times a week for check ups.

Then, towards the end of 2015, Tilly became really ill again.

Emma said: “Her knee joint was no good and blood wasn’t getting through, so her leg was technically dying off as a result of the accident.

“We were told she’d never be able to walk with that leg and doctors mentioned amputation, but I wanted Tilly to make the decision.

“She decided she wanted to go for it, so on January 4 2016 she had her right leg amputated.

“There were complications and she lost a lot of blood, but as soon as she had a blood transfusion she started picking up.”

In June, Tilly had her first prosthetic fitted which was too small, but she’s since had a new one.

She is now ‘a lot happier’ and has wanted to walk more and more.

Emma added: “She’s a lot happier now and just wants to run around with the other children.

“She keeps telling everyone about her leg and she’s getting really excited about the future.

“She has a frame and a bar at home which she uses for support, but last week was the first time she walked completely unaided.

“She’s a fighter.”

Emma also praised Tilly’s siblings for their support, without who she ‘wouldn’t have got through’.

Emma is mum to Toby, 12, Kaden, 10, Tilly, nine, Elise, six, and Daisy-May, two.

She said: “Her brothers and sisters have been amazing, without them she wouldn’t have got through.

“If ever she needs anything, all she has to do is ask and they’re straight there.”

Tilly has now been nominated for the Pride of Britain Child of Courage award, which will be shown on on ITV at 8pm on November 1.

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