A VERY special girl has inspired a pub to launch a charity karaoke competition.
Aleesha Taylor, who is 11 months old, was born with a hole in her heart and a cleft palate, and parents Susan Kennedy and Ben Taylor, both 20, were told there was only a slim chance she would survive.
Straight after birth she was rushed to Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool, where she stayed for the first six weeks of her life.
Susan, of Havelock Street, Oswaldtwistle, said: "I was told when I was five months pregnant that she had a hole in her heart, and the doctors weren't sure she would survive.
"She was taken straight to Alder Hey the minute she was born and has been in and out of hospital since. She has picked up a lot of viruses, like bronchitis, quite easily and it is harder for her body to cope with them."
When she was four months old Aleesha had a four-hour operation for the hole in the heart and, after complications developed, she was in intensive care for a week-and-a-half and was kept in hospital for six weeks.
Her parents now face a nailbiting wait before going back to the hospital in December to find if the operation was successful.
She has also had an operation on her cleft palate.
Susan said: "She has seen enough of hospitals to last a lifetime and she is behind other babies of her age.
"She is really like a six-or-seven-month-old. But in spite of everything she is a really happy baby.
"If everything goes well she should be able to go to a mainstream school and live a normal life."
Now, with the help of Tina Greaves, the landlady of the couple's local pub the Royal Oak on Union Road, Susan and Ben, a machine operator, are raising money to help other children like Aleesha.
Tina decided to hold a fund-raising event for Alder Hey after hearing about the treatment and care Aleesha received from staff there.
She said: "Susan and Ben are a lovely young couple and Ben has played pool for the pub in the past, so we thought we'd like to try and give something back to the hospital after it treated little Aleesha so well."
It was decided that the event would take the form of a series of karaoke nights over six weeks, with aspiring pop stars competing for the chance to record a song and walk away with a £300 cash prize.
The first session was a big success, with Susan taking an active role by belting out her own rendition of Dido's White Flag and bagging herself a place in the final.
The karaoke nights are being held for the next four Saturdays, starting at 7.30pm, with the final being held on 28 December. It costs £5 to enter and the best three performers on the night will go through to the final. A raffle will be offering prizes donated by shops in the area.