A LITTLE girl born with a serious heart defect was the inspiration behind a gala that has raised thousands of pounds towards treatment for children.

Two-year-old Dolcie from Throop has a congenital heart condition which means she faces a series of surgeries just to keep her alive.

At the age of just eight months, she had her first operation to repair a malformed valve. As her heart grows she will need further surgery just to keep it working.

Dolcie's parents Steve Woodhouse and Holly Doick staged a charity gala at the Haven Hotel in Poole as a way of saying thank you for the expert treatment and care their daughter has received.

The event in aid of babies with life-threatening heart defects was attended by more than 200 people including many members of the local business community.

It raised £14,000 for vital life-saving equipment for the children’s heart ward and intensive care unit at Southampton Hospital.

Money raised from the gala will go to Friends of PICU, which raises funds for Southampton Hospital’s Children’s Intensive Care Unit, Families of Ocean Ward, which supports the hospital’s children’s heart ward, and Tiny Tickers, the only national charity dedicated to the diagnosis and detection of congenital heart defects.

Dolcie’s mum Holly said the gala had been “wonderful”.

She said “We are very, very happy. We achieved above and beyond what we expected.

“There is no cure for Dolcie's heart defect, only treatment, which means a lifetime of open heart surgeries for our brave little girl. Sadly Dolcie will always be in heart failure and therefore her future is uncertain.”

She said the fundraising event aimed “to make sure Dolcie's and thousands of other little hearts keep beating”.