Little Ellis heads for the heights of Pen y Fan

By Twm Owen in Local People

AT just over a metre tall, four-year-old Ellis Matthews is scaling the heights of Pen y Fan to raise money and awareness for epilepsy.

The Llanfaes Primary School pupil is tackling the mountain, which looms over the Beacons at 886m above sea level, with his parents and siblings on Purple Day (March 26).

Last year, Ellis, from Jubilee Place, The Avenue, helped his mother Michelle host a bake sale and other activities to raise more than £800 for the annual event which encourages people from across the world to turn their communities purple to raise awareness about epilepsy and how it effects a person and their loved-ones.

Michelle said Ellis had his first fit a few days before his third birthday and diagnosed shortly after with epilepsy.

The 39-year-old child minder said: "It was on May 18, 2015. He then had another fit as we were travelling to Drayton Manor for his third birthday. There are no patterns to his fits, other than they tend to occur within the first fifteen minutes of him falling asleep. We sit with him for at least half an hour after he has fallen asleep to keep an eye on him. I have also got a monitor I use. When he does finally come through he is paralysed for up to two hours."

Ellis added: "My arms go to sleep and they take a long time to wake up."

Mother-of-three Michelle said that there is a family history of epilepsy, with both her and her brother experiencing fits from childhood until their late teens, and Ellis and Michelle’s nephew also suffering from the condition.

"I grew out of it," said Michelle. "And so has my brother. They say that if you are going to grow out of the condition you will during your teens but who knows. There are other children out of there who are effected by epilepsy far worse than Ellis as he doesn’t fit as frequently as others. That in a way can be worse as we get that glimmer of hope that the condition is improving and he is growing out of it. He went for six months without a fit and we thought the best but sadly Ellis has had several fits since then."

Ellis needs emergency medicine to control his fit, the moment he gets ill, meaning anyone who cares for him has had to have specialist training to intervene.

"Both me and my husband Shaun have obviously had the training but his school have been amazing," said Michele. "All of his teachers have had the training and so have his grandparents.

"It is so crucial he gets the medication as quickly as possible."

The whole family, Layla aged 15, Nathan 14 and nine-year-old Halle, are joining the pint sized tot on his epic challenge.

"I can’t wait to go up the big mountain," said Ellis. "I’ll be wearing my purple T-shirt and we are taking a picnic with us. Rosco my dog is coming too!"

If you want to sponsor Ellis or donate you can do so by giving a donation at the Spar or by Facebook.

For more information on Purple Day visit www.purpleday.org

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