The family of a girl who was left fighting for her life after contracting E. coli say they want to raise awareness of the risks of the potentially lethal infection.

Claudia Erskine, now 11, of Christ’s Hospital, Horsham, fell critically ill just days after visiting Godstone Farm when she was just seven years old.

She was one of 76 children under the age of ten who contracted E. coli there.

The families who were worst affected by the outbreak settled their damage claims with the farm in court earlier this month.

Claudia’s mother Lucy, 39, told of how “no amount of money in the world” would offset the fact her daughter has to live with the health effects of what happened.

She said it was the “darkest period” of her family but added they were determined to raise awareness of the infection.

The mother-of-three said: “Having lived through the dreadful effects that it had on our family, and nearly losing our little girl as a result, we would ask other parents to think twice before taking children to petting farms.”

She added: “I sat vigil by her bedside, terrified and not knowing whether she would have the strength to pull through.

“It seemed impossible to us that our lit- tle girl, who had been happy and healthy just a few days before, was now lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life – and all because of a day out at Godstone Farm.”

Claudia was left hospitalised for three weeks, pulling through in what her mother called a “miracle”.

Claudia’s siblings, Niall, six, and Evan, 15-months, also contracted the disease but recovered.

The individual awards on the cases against Godstone Farm cannot be disclosed but European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse confirmed the combined amount of their 35 cases is in excess of £1 million.

Jill Greenfield, Field Fisher Waterhouse partner, said: “It is tragic that these young children were allowed to skip into this farm completely oblivious to the danger that awaited.”

For information about keeping safe from E. coli go to: farmsafe/ecoli.