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Meadowhall's heartwarming Build-a-Bear gesture for young girl battling rare blood disorder

Imogen with her Build a Bear
Imogen with her Build a Bear
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A young girl with an extremely rare blood disorder was given a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity at Meadowhall yesterday.

Letitia Smith was hoping to treat her daughter Imogen, 7, to a brand new Build-a-Bear before her operation at Sheffield Children's Hospital.

However, the pair were left heartbroken when they arrived at Meadowhall on Thursday to find the shutters down at the Build-a-Bear store.

The store was forced to close early amid safety fears with some parents warned they would be waiting in a nine-hour long queue.

But, after a short conversation with the Meadowhall manager, Imogen was allowed to enter the Build-a-Bear with her mother and pick out her own teddie bear.

Letitia said: "It was a real once in a lifetime opportunity for Imogen. My daughter is having surgery today in Sheffield and I had promised to get her a Build-a-Bear en route.

"When we got there it was closed and they were giving out vouchers instead. I spoke to the manager and told them that we couldn't come back tomorrow.

"Thankfully, he opened the store for us and Imogen was able to pick out whatever she wanted."

Build-a-Bear had been advertising a Pay Your Age Day event across the country where parents could pay their child's age to create a bear.

However, the deal proved to be much more popular than first anticipated with many keen bargain hunters arriving at the Meadowhall store before it opened.

Pictures soon began flooding on social media exposing the chaotic scenes at Meadowhall, with the queue snaking around the shopping centre.

Eventually, Meadowhall's security was forced to turn disappointed shoppers away from the queues before the store was eventually closed over safety fears.

Letitia said that there was an angry response from other shoppers when she was let into the store, with some even filming her as she and Imogen entered.

She said: "We actually had to be let out at the back of the store after we picked up our Build-a-Bear. They couldn't understand why we were let in.

"I was just honest about the situation with Imogen and she was beside herself when we were allowed in.

"She collects Build-a-Bears and has about 30 at home. It really meant the world to her that she was allowed in the store."

Imogen suffers from Glanzmann thrombasthenia, a very rare bleeding disorder caused by blood abnormality.

The brave seven-year-old, from Lincoln, is today having stomach and bowel surgery at Sheffield Children's hospital today.

Thankfully, she now has her new Build-a-Bear, dressed in princess pyjamas, by her side.