THE family of a 10-year-old girl at risk of eating herself to death because of an incurable condition have appealed for understanding.
Victoria Jones, who lives in The Quillet, Neston, was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, which causes an insatiable hunger and an obsession with food.
'If Victoria was left alone, she would literally eat herself to death. This will be with her for the rest of her life there is no cure,' said her grandfather David Whitmore of Heswall.
Her parents Alison and Frank, a heavy goods vehicle driver, have to keep locks on their fridge and food cupboards to prevent Victoria doing herself any harm.
Mr Whitmore said his granddaughter leads 'a more or less normal life'.
A pupil at Woodfall Junior School in Little Neston, she has shown herself to be intelligent but because of her illness, she is below the usual standard for her age group.
Victoria, who also suffers speech and mobility problems, is monitored by Arrowe Park Hospital every three months to check her weight is not rising.
Mr Whitmore said: 'The most important thing to Victoria is being provided with constant support, love and affection each day, with as much of a structured routine as possible.
'She is an adorable daughter, a lovable sister and a member of a large loving family. Anyone who meets her is always drawn to her warm, unforgettable personality and spontaneous laughter.'
Mr Whitmore recounted a funny story involving his grand-daughter and a disappearing birthday cake.
He said the cake had been left out for later, but the family came back to find it had all been eaten up.
Mr Whitmore said: 'My grand-daughter had been responsible, and had eaten it all. But she had an 'it wasn't me' innocent look on her face.'
Victoria's mother Alison says the syndrome is not hereditary, as her other two children, Christopher, 13, and seven-year-old Mark, are healthy.
But she is keen to publicise the illness to stop Victoria, who is overweight without being obese, being branded 'a greedy child' by people who don't understand her condition.
They can also be impatient when Victoria has difficulty expressing herself, rather than waiting patiently to hear what she has to say.
'Ignorance reduces Victoria's quality of life, since other people often presume she is stupid,' said Alison.
'Increased knowledge of Prader-Willi would make life easier for Victoria and other sufferers.'