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Public rushing to aid family of conjoined twins

THE family of little fighters and conjoined twins, who turned down €80,000 for photos, have been overwhelmed by donations from the public.

Proud parents Angie and Azzedine Benhaffaf, from east Cork, said that they have been blown away by the amount of money fundraised on behalf of their children in the last three months.

The beaming mum was full of praise and was visibly moved by the level of support the bike run from Midleton to Dungarvan received.

"It is overwhelming. It is lovely. It is amazing. It shows that everyone in the country is behind the boys and that is all very positive," Angie said.

"It is so genuine. We are totally overwhelmed as a family."

The bike run was the brainchild of the twins' uncle Jason Keating, a proud member of the Rebel Riders Motorcycle Club.

The large fundraising effort is to help fund the twins' operation later this year when the boys will travel to London to undergo surgery to separate them.

Angie believes that the high level of support from the public has been largely due to the fact that the family turned down an €80,000 offer from a British tabloid for exclusive pictures of the twins.

"We were all shocked by the force of the bidding war that went on among the papers," the mum said. "We may be broke but we're morally rich."

The couple came to the decision to offer media access to their story for free to all newspapers and TV stations.

Their appearance on the Late Late Show triggered a massive flood of support from the public around the country and dozens of fundraising events and activities.

Angie is cataloguing every message of support for the boys so they can view them when they are adults.

"When the boys look back on it they will be proud we did not accept money for their story," she said.

Fundraisers have ranged from a cookery exhibition by Clodagh McKenna to a table quiz and a huge charity bike run which took place yesterday in Cork.

The twins, Hassan and Hussein were the picture of tranquillity as they slept peacefully while their mother spoke to the media prior to the bike run.

Anyone who wishes to donate can pay into the Little Fighters Fund account in the Permanent TSB branch in Patrick Street, Cork: sort code 99-07-03; account number 16556196.