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NI dad Chris Brannigan has emotional reunion with family after 700-mile barefoot charity trek

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Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti

Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti

Army Major Chris Brannigan and daughter Hasti

An army major from Co Down had an emotional reunion with his family after walking 700 miles barefoot to fund research into his young daughter’s rare illness.

Chris Brannigan (40) finished the agonising journey at Edinburgh Castle around 5.30pm on Wednesday having set off from Land’s End in Cornwall on July 6.

His eight-year-old daughter Hasti lives with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a serious genetic condition which is potentially life-limiting and can get dramatically worse from puberty.

Those with the condition can often suffer seizures, severe anxiety and self-harm which requires round the clock care.

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Chris Brannigan (40) finished the agonising journey at Edinburgh Castle around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Chris Brannigan (40) finished the agonising journey at Edinburgh Castle around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Chris Brannigan (40) finished the agonising journey at Edinburgh Castle around 5.30pm on Wednesday.

With no cure available, the family have been in a race against time to fund research into the condition.

Having suffered agony to get to the finish line, Chris endured open wounds and infections in both feet while carrying 25kg of kit which doctors warned could cause him permanent damage.

Answering questions online when just seven miles away from Edinburgh Castle, he said that research has already started for Hasti at the Jackson Laboratory in the United States.

The hope now is that gene therapy can be up and running by Autumn next year.

He explained it would be the only treatment his daughter will get, as it would be the first available for CdLS.

“It will give her body the access to the gene she needs...the one that’s currently dysfunctional which will help with her continued development as she continues to grow but will also allow her body to regulate itself properly….so it will improve her life dramatically," he said.

Chris also believes a new treatment would have an even bigger benefit for children who are diagnosed at an earlier stage.

Cheered on by droves of supporters along the way, more than £316,000 has been raised in the effort so far.

A petition calling for reform of care for children with rare diseases, which Chris delivered to Downing Street along the way, has also received over 18,000 signatures so far.

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The major is attempting to raise awareness of people with rare disease (Christopher Brannigan/PA)

The major is attempting to raise awareness of people with rare disease (Christopher Brannigan/PA)

The major is attempting to raise awareness of people with rare disease (Christopher Brannigan/PA)

The family aim to raise and initial £400,000, with a final goal of £2.5m to provide treatment for Hasti and others with life-limiting conditions.

To contribute to the fundraising appeal, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BarefootAcrossBritain

Belfast Telegraph