JULIE Evans was out shopping when a chance encounter led to help for her grandson and the start of a fund-raising drive.

Julie and her daughter, Katie, were both scared about the shape of baby William's head and they weren't so sure they should leave a "flat patch" to grow out - as they had been told.

But in a chance meeting between the aisles in Sainsburys, Julie heard a second opinion.

Michelle Purkis had also been told "don't worry, it will go on its own" about her son, Theo, and she hadn't been sure either.

What Michelle did featured in the Hereford Times a year ago, and got a big response. She said Julie and Katie should do the same.

Now, mother and daughter have a £2,000 target to reach. It's tough when money is tight - but worth every penny.

Eight-month-old William is a Plagio baby, born with a distinct flatness to the left side of his head. At its simplest, Plagio, or Plagiocephaly, causes one side of the skull to grow quicker than the other, throwing eyes, ears and eventually jaws out of alignment.

The NHS calls the condition cosmetic and despite the lobbying of various specialists, won't fund treatment because it does not restrict brain growth or cause brain damage.

Plagio kids can have special plastic and foam helmets that fit snugly to those parts of the skull growing normally and has openings for those that are not. Worn 23 hours a day over several weeks the helmet channels head growth to those areas that need to catch up - but they cost up to £2,000.

That sum was way beyond Julie and Katie, from Hugh Thomas Avenue, Holmer, so they set out to raise it. An anonymous donor put £500 towards a deposit as soon as the appeal started and the pair hope a series of jumble sales, raffles, auctions and donations can cover the rest.

William is already wearing his helmet, measured and fitted by specialists in Cardiff. It took a little getting used to, but nothing a big fuss and quick kiss couldn't put right.

It's black and white - because all the family are die-hard Hereford United fans - and sports his name across the front.

William had a tough time from the off. Born three weeks premature and facing upwards, his arrival at Hereford County Hospital was "traumatic", said Julie.

William also suffers from tightness in his neck muscles that makes them less flexible and a throat condition that Julie says "makes him sound like he has a cold all the time".

He was four months old when they first saw that his head seemed "a little bit flat".

The medics said it would grow out once he started sitting up.

Then Julie met Michelle in Sainsburys and heard her story. Michelle saw in William what she first saw in her Theo and came over to say so.

Michelle learned about Plagio the hard way and had to go it alone to get a helmet.

She now wants to share her experiences with other frightened families and help change the way the NHS sees their children.

Theo's fine now thanks to his helmet. Julie says there's every sign that William will be too.