SCHOOLGIRL Kathleen Hillman smiles with relief after coming home from hospital following major surgery.

Kathleen, 13, sustained a fractured skull when a piece of rusty scrap metal fell on her from a truck last week.

She was walking down the street with her friend, Carla Barnes, who suffered minor injuries.

The teenager was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, following the incident at 9pm on Ffosmaen Road, Nantyglo, on Monday. The following morning surgeons operated and removed a piece of bone that was applying pressure to the brain. Kathleen, one of nine children, was back at home on Friday afternoon and is expected to make a full recovery.

Her mother, 33-year-old Sarah Hillman, of Milfraen Avenue, Nantyglo, said: "I think God was looking down on us and kept her with me. "I'm not a religious person but I really do believe that. I saw her lying on the floor and I don't remember who was around me - it all went blank. It was very scary and I honestly thought she was gone."

Kathleen will have to go back to the hospital regularly in the next few months so neurosurgeons who operated on her can check her progress. In the meantime, she has been told to stay off school until September while she recovers.

Pupils and staff at Nantyglo Comprehensive School held a collection on her behalf and bought her some books and a personal CD player with the proceeds.

Mrs Hillman said: "Everybody at the school and around Nantyglo has been marvellous to us. We even had a visit from Peter Law (Blaenau Gwent MP and AM) to see how Kathleen was. He told me he was operated on in the same ward that Kathleen was in.

"The doctors are going to keep a close eye on Kathleen and see how she goes. "She cannot remember anything about the incident, which is a good thing in a way because it was traumatic."

A man was arrested following the incident and was released on police bail pending further inquiries. Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to contact the Road Collision Investigation unit of Gwent Police on 01633 643091.