Toddler Ellis achieves goal of climbing Pen y Fan

By Emma Evans in Local People

HE shook off a cough and broke through the pain barrier stopping just three time to mutter ’this is so steep’, but pint-sized Ellis Matthews reached the summit of Pen y Fan for Purple Day.

And the Llanfaes Primary School pupil’s determination inspired two teens watching nearby to give the four-year-old a £10 donation for scaling the giant of the Brecon Beacons.

Ellis was left feeling a little off-colour by the experience though. His mother Michelle said: "Ellis was sick over the edge of the mountain at the top!"

Ellis and his family, from Jubilee Place, Brecon, took on the mountain, which looms over the landscape at 886m above sea level, on Purple Day (March 26) to raise more than £700 for epilepsy research and awareness.

Last year the family hosted 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.

Proud mother Michelle, aged 39-year-old, said: "Ellis had been up with a bad chest Saturday night and so we were not sure we would make it to the top but we did !Ê

"We set off at 9:20am. Ellis did cry at some points going up and said this is so steep, and it was very very windy up near the top but we pushed on through, holding the little ones and the dog for dear life."

Reaching the top in just over two hours, Michelle said the moment was filled with emotion, even if Ellis was sick over the edge of the mountain.

Michelle said: "We couldn’t wait to get photos with the famous stone! There were two boys there, Nathan Alexander and Rhys Sandford from Pencoed Rfc under 16s and they donated £10 to the charity.

"They said that one of the mums was struggling but was inspired by Ellis climbing so got to the top too."

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

Michelle and Shaun are proud of the grit determination and support shown by their other children, Layla aged 15, Nathan 14 and nine-year-old Halle, who joined the tot on his epic challenge.

"They all did so well," said Michelle. "We wanted to give up on the way but we knew we just couldn’t we had to raise that money! Coming back down was worse on the knees ! Shaun carried Ellis a lot of the way down as by then he was just so tired and poorly."

The family have been touched for the support shown by local people and businesses. "We wanted to thank the co op in Brecon as they donated food for us to eat on our way and are doing a raffle this week to raise more money," she said. "Strangers have donated to the charity after seeing Ellis’ picture on Facebook and donations have come in through the our local Spar and Cradoc Golf Club. At last count we were at £753 but that’s going up!"