A BRAVE girl who spent nearly a year in hospital has met one of the world’s most successful girl bands.

Poppy Smith, 7, was among a crowd of more than 21,000 at the Falkirk Stadium last Friday evening to see Little Mix.

And Poppy was one of the few who got backstage to meet Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Leigh-Anne Pinnock.

The band, famous for hits such as Black Magic, Shout Out To My Ex and Wings, played a series of concerts across Scotland.

Poppy’s mum Laura said: “Poppy is a huge fan of Little Mix.

“She listened to their music when she was in hospital when she was feeling sad, to distract from when she was in pain and to motivate herself during physio.

“Her favourite song is Secret Love Song.

“Poppy’s dance teacher Christina Liddell [who works for Dancebase in Edinburgh but also gives her time to Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity to dance with children in hospital] applied to the Rays of Sunshine charity for Poppy to meet Little Mix after Poppy told her that it was her wish.

“She was very excited but also nervous to meet them!

“She met them before they went on stage at their Falkirk concert along with her older sister, Jessica [aged nine].

“She was able to chat to them – albeit she was very shy! – and pose for photographs.

“She then watched the concert and loved the dancing and fireworks in particular.”

Poppy, who starts primary four at Gullane Primary School after the summer holidays, became unwell in September 2016.

The youngster, from Gullane, was initially suffering from cold-like symptoms but woke the next morning unable to swallow and move her arm.

She was taken to Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children, where she was diagnosed with a rare condition called acute flaccid myelitis. The condition damages nerves in the spinal cord – in Poppy’s case those supplying the speech, swallow and breathing muscles, as well as her limbs.

Poppy, who turns eight next month, spent much of the next year in hospital, with the community getting firmly behind the schoolgirl through a series of fundraisers, helping collect more than £70,000.

Laura was pleased to say her daughter’s health was continuing to improve. She said: “Poppy was ventilated 24/7 this time last year, but is now off all ventilation support and breathing herself.

“She was admitted to hospital to undergo tests to see if she could breathe without her tracheostomy and she was decannualted [tracheostomy taken out] on July 18.

“This will have a huge impact on Poppy’s life as she no longer needs regular tracheostomy suction, daily medical procedures, weekly invasive tracheostomy changes, and most importantly doesn’t need trained support workers with her overnight.

“The best thing for Poppy is that now she can have her bedroom upstairs with her sister again!

“Poppy always felt very self-conscious about her tracheostomy and we can already see her confidence growing since it has been removed.

“It is difficult to speak when you have a tracheostomy in your airway, so now her voice is much stronger and louder – and she is able to sing for the first time in two years!

“Poppy is well generally. She still struggles with arm paralysis and core/neck weakness, and has regular physio to try to work on this.

“Unfortunately she is still unable to swallow and is fed via a gastrostomy, but we all hope that it will return in the future.

“It will be two years this September since Poppy got sick and we have now been home just over a year.”

She added: “The last few months have been very tough for the family because we’ve had to have a number of admissions to hospital and Poppy has had to undergo lots of painful tests and big changes that have made her anxious.

“Poppy always impresses everyone with how brave and resilient she is.

“At the beginning we were told that Poppy might never be able to breathe for herself – so we are absolutely delighted with her progress.”

Jane Sharpe, CEO of Rays of Sunshine, was happy to help. She said: “It was a privilege to grant Poppy’s wish.

“As ambassadors of our charity, Little Mix regularly give up their time to grant magical wishes and we can’t be more grateful to them for helping bring so many smiles to brave and deserving children like Poppy.”