Globe-trotting felt dogs help raise awareness of genetic illness

Jackie Harrison and her brother Mark.
Jackie Harrison and her brother Mark.

Globe-trotting felt dogs sent around the world to raise awareness of a devastating genetic illness have raised £6,000 for charity.

The models of pet dog Sybil are on an international tour after her owner launched a campaign to help people with Huntingdon’s Disease.

Jackie Harrison, of Bailiff Bridge, Brighouse, has been looking after her brother Mark, 46, one of multiple family members who have the illness, since she was a child.

Around 1,500 pink and green Sybils have been sent around the world as part of the campaign, which has passed the £6,000 mark in aid of the Huntingdon’s Disease Association.

Miss Harrison, 52, said: “Mark has gradually been getting worse for the last 15 years. For the last couple of years he’s not really been able to do anything for himself.

“We had a Border Terrier called Sybil, that’s where it all came from. It started when I made some felt border terriers to give people as Christmas presents.

“Most have been green and pink. But I’ve also made them in football team colours.

“The idea is people share pictures of them on social media and make a donation.”

Huntington’s disease is caused by a faulty gene that leads to the brain being gradually damaged over time. People with the illness in their family face tough decisions over whether to tell their children and get tested themselves.

Last November, Miss Harrison was found to be free of the illness.

She said: “I just absolutely broke down, really.

“A lot of people have what is known as survivor’s guilt if they have the all-clear but their siblings have it.

“There is little understanding about the disease.

“Because it is genetic, unless you have it in your family you don’t worry about it.”

Miss Harrison has a new Border Terrier called Spike after Sybil died last year.