Loopy Lasses to kick start fund-raising campaign for Ellie Loades, who has cystic fibrosis

A campaign has been launched to raise �7,000 to improve the life of a Fakenham schoolgirl who has cystic fibrosis.

The plight of Ellie Loades and her family has inspired six friends to take part in a sponsored skydive. Several other fundraising events are also being planned.

Ellie, 14, of Colkirk, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was four weeks old. Her mother, Elaine, has multiple sclerosis, and her father, Nick was diagnosed with mouth cancer last year, for which he has had successful surgery.

Mr Loades gave up work seven years ago to become a full-time carer for his wife and his child.

Cystic fibrosis affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with mucus.

Ellie often has difficulty breathing. Her lung function is at 33pc, where it would ideally be at around 60pc. A person without lung problems will see their lungs function at around 95pc.

Ellie has to take a range of medications each day. She undergoes physiotherapy twice a day and spends about three months a year in hospital.

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She weighs 35kg when she should be at least 49kg and has to take in 3,000 calories a day; she has a stomach tube to help with this.

For all the adversity, Ellie says she still leads a happy life.

She attends Fakenham High School – but her condition means she has to miss a lot of school.

She is also studying for a Level Two Certificate in Horse Care at Easton College, near Norwich, and has two ponies that are her pride and joy.

She said: 'I get breathless quite easily and cough a lot but still do the activities I love because I don't let cystic fibrosis lead my life.

'I was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when I was four weeks old so it is part of my normal life. My friends and family have all helped me cope with it as I have got older.

'All of my friends whom I invite for sleep-overs and parties are great because they understand that I have to take about two hours out to do my treatments.'

The �7,000 is needed to buy Ellie a special airway clearance system vest.

An air pulse generator rapidly inflates and deflates the vest, compressing and releasing the chest wall. The rapid chest movements mimic small coughs that dislodge and thin the mucus.

Ellie wore the vest for a trial, using it twice a day for 20 minutes over four weeks and this saw her lung function increase by 4pc.

Mr Loades said: 'We have had a tough couple of years but this vest would have a big impact on Ellie's life. It is wonderful that these girls are raising money for her.'

Ali Ficarra, 32, from Fakenham, Lucy Blowers, 16, from Blakeney, Claire Stace, from Norwich, Vikki Jay, 39, from Sheringham, Rachel Burridge, 23, from Runhall and Marina Ives, 20, from Blakeney, will jump from an aeroplane at 13,000ft over Beccles Airfield on May 19.

They have called themselves 'The Loopy Lasses' and are appealing for people to sponsor them.

Miss Ficarra has known Ellie for 12 years and taught her how to ride a horse.

Mrs Jay met Ellie and her family at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital while her son Ellis, three, who has a lung disease, was treated there.

Miss Ficarra said: 'All my friends know that I am petrified of flying so I thought, what better way of raising money for Ellie than jumping out of an plane and roping a load of mates into doing it with me.'

She added: 'The Loades are a very well-known in this area but they are such a modest and lovely family.

'I'll come round and start moaning about having a headache and problems at work but I never hear them complaining about anything. They remain positive despite everything that life has thrown at them.'

Ellie, known for her sense of humour, joked: 'I think they are completely mad. You wouldn't get me jumping out a plane for nobody.'

The Loopy Lasses wish to thank Blakeney Players for donating �1,000

Other fund-raising events being planned include a horse ride, a Chinese night and a barn dance.

Details of these events are to be finalised but will be published in The Times when they are confirmed.

Anyone wishing to sponsor the girls or simply make a donation towards Ellie's vest can do an on-line transfer into account number: 63422127, sort code: 203081, name: Ellie's Physio Vest or contact Mr Loades directly on 07889 157895.

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