Caroline and I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mila Sneddon, a 4-year-old from Stenhousemuir who you may recognise from your television screens or local media channels. After trying to find an alternative solution, the family took the difficult decision to isolate in different households during lockdown to protect Mila. At this point, she was only four months into her chemotherapy journey for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Mila’s mum Lynda explained to her that this was to keep the germs away and she took it in her stride. Mila seems to always have an adorable grin on her face, no matter what is going on in her world. When we were walking towards her house for this interview, we heard her from over the fence, “it’s me, over here!” She was so excited to meet us, and we were just as excited to meet her, from a safe distance.
The Image that Captured the Nation
Mila’s story had been brought to our attention during lockdown when Caroline and I called each other with tears in our eyes after watching Mila on the news, smiling and blowing kisses to her dad through her kitchen window. Lynda elaborates, “As Mila’s dad, Scott, had to continue to work and her big sister, Jodi, had to attend school, we could not risk the possibility of infection being brought home – so they would visit every day at the window.” Lynda had originally shared the image of Mila and her dad on her Facebook page to bring to light the importance of social distancing. The majority of us were able to remain in our homes with our whole families so it was a strong message to share of the sacrifices their family were making for their beautiful little girl. This image went viral and the tear-jerking story was quickly heard all across the U.K. Seven weeks later and after being furloughed from his job, Scott was reunited with Mila and the video of their reunion also went viral. Mila was over the moon to be able to hug her dad. Lynda says, “Looking back, I’m so proud of my daughter and how far she has come – the level of resilience Mila has shown during this unprecedented time is truly remarkable.”
The image of Mila and her Dad not only went viral but was chosen as one of the 100 featured images in the Hold Still 2020 campaign. The campaign, which is spearheaded by The Duchess of Cambridge, is a community project which was launched in May 2020 to create a unique collective portrait of the UK during lockdown. Over 31,000 submissions were received from across the country, with entrants ranging from 4 to 75 years old. From these, a panel of judges selected 100 portraits, assessing the images on the emotions and experiences they conveyed. Mila said to us that she thinks she will meet the Queen, and we really hope that she does.
Mila has now started primary school and is loving getting to spend time with peers her own age. She is full of life and laughter and we think we could all take a leaf out of Mila’s book.