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Woman's dying wish to visit Vatican granted after funding campaign

Darren Barber set up an online page for his sister, who has a life expectancy of five to 12 months.

Corinne Barber: Final wish to see Vatican granted.
Corinne Barber: Final wish to see Vatican granted.

A woman is to have her last wish to visit the Vatican fulfilled after a fundraising campaign run by her family.

Darren Barber, 43, set up an online page entitled Help With Corinne's Final Wish for his sister, who has a complex congenital heart disorder and who he said has a life expectancy of five to 12 months.

About £8,500 has been raised since he created the GoFundMe campaign three months ago - enough to ensure Corinne Barber, 42, from Edinburgh, will travel this weekend.

An audience with Pope Francis has also been granted after the campaign attracted the support of Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley, who has also made sure the insurance fees of the trip are covered.

It was feared it would be impossible to achieve her "lifelong dream" after her heart condition left her too sick to fly and costs started mounting. But donations from well-wishers across the world flooded in.

Mr Barber, from North Berwick in East Lothian, said he was "absolutely ecstatic" the journey was now going to happen.

"We have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by people who have supported our GoFundMe campaign and Corinne has been elated by the way people have connected with her," he added.

Corinne said: "I can't believe that this is really happening. I'm both incredibly excited and quite nervous.

"The effort involved in getting there is significant but I am looking forward to the experience once we're there.

"Visiting the many historical sites, tying it all into both my academic work and my faith, to see it all in the flesh, so to speak.

"With the opportunity of being able to meet the Pope it promises to truly be a spiritual journey of a lifetime.

"I am truly humbled by this whole experience and very, very grateful to everyone who helped to make this a reality."

She will make the pilgrimage with her mother, travelling by train to Rome. Her husband and her twin sister will also be flying out to join her.

Archbishop Cushley said: "We are thrilled that Corinne is finally able to make her pilgrimage to Rome and we will now make sure that she is at next week's audience with Pope Francis.

"We also hope to arrange a private tour of the Vatican for Corinne including the Sistine Chapel. It's the very least we can do to help."

Kelsea Little, of GoFundMe.com said: "We are over the moon that Corinne is finally able to make her pilgrimage to the Vatican. 

"We have been willing the family on every step of the way and all the team here hope she has an absolutely wonderful experience."

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