Baldock student highlights heartbreak over life-limiting condition A-T

Antonia Hunter

Antonia Hunter - Credit: Archant

A student has created a series of award-winning films about children living with Ataxia-Telangiectasia - a genetic condition which causes severe disability and early death.

Antonia Hunter, a former student at The Knights Templar School in Baldock, secured a first class honours degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Salford with the three short films.

She first developed her interest in film and current affairs at the Baldock school and her films about A-T won her the university’s Best TV Journalist award.

Antonia, who did work experience at the Comet, has gifted the films to the Ataxia-Telangiectasia Society - a small national charity which supports children and families affected by A-T.

Children born with the A-T gene appear healthy, but at age two or three their balance starts to fail. By the age of 10 most are in a wheelchair and by 12 they may need help to eat and with everyday living.


You may also want to watch:


A-T sufferers are at high risk of developing lung disease, leukaemia and other cancers and it is unusual for a person with A-T to live beyond 26.

The 21-year-old said: “I had volunteered with the charity and met many of the A-T families at their annual get-together. I wanted to tell their stories and make people more aware of the condition. Working with the Comet helped me to understand the power of the media to help this happen.

Most Read

“Many GPs have never heard of A-T, and as a result children can go undiagnosed, sometimes with fatal consequences as they are at high risk of cancer and lung disease which can be managed with early intervention.”

In the first film, the Sewell family share the heartbreak of when their son Brae was diagnosed with the condition at just three years old. Brae’s father, Brian, said: “Nothing can prepare you for a diagnosis like this. No one could look us in the eye.”

Part two introduces 16-year-old Alecia Yarlett, who talks about her life with A-T, and how, despite being a wheelchair user, she still makes the best of her teenage years.

In the final film, Professor Steve Jackson talks about how he hopes his research and that of others will result in dramatically extending the life expectancy of somebody living with A-T.

The charity’s chief executive, William Davis, said: “Antonia’s sensitive approach gave the families a voice whilst making this complex condition more understandable to people who have never heard of it.

“The films show the importance of research into treatments and a cure, and why hope for a future without A-T matters for the one in 200 people who unknowingly carry the gene.”

To watch the films, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=I58Afz6T2hs (part one), www.youtube.com/watch?v=66HLawlmR7s (part two), or www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNZ0H-z3aag (part three).

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter