Oulton girl’s support for Lowestoft Santa Run for children’s hospices

IT is a place that the vast majority of families will thankfully never have to visit.

But for Ellie Stone and her family, a trip to the Quidenham children's hospice has become a familiar journey – and now they are determined to repay its devoted staff for the care and support they give her.

Ellie, who is 14 today, has been going to the hospice near Diss since she was two years old because she has complex health care needs as a result of having cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, asthma and osteoporosis.

Despite her illness, Ellie is today leading the calls for people in Waveney to support East Anglia's Children's Hospices (EACH) by taking part in the Lowestoft Santa Run on Sunday, December 4.

The determined teenager, who lives at Bonds Meadow in Oulton, will be donning her own eye-catching Father Christmas outfit to take part in the run with her mother Jennie, her brother Matthew, and their dog Oscar.

It is hoped the event will raise more than �2,500 for EACH, which has hospices at Quidenham, Milton, near Cambridge, and Ipswich.

Ellie spends up to 21 days a year at the hospice where, as well as receiving medical care, she can make new friends and enjoy a whole host of memorable trips, such as sitting in a plane at RAF Marham, flying in a helicopter, riding around on a motorbike and going to the cinema and bowling.

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EACH staff also pay home visits to Ellie, who goes to Lowestoft's Denes High School, and by staying at the Quidenham hospice it allows time for her mum to spend quality time with her brother.

Jennie, 35, said that when EACH asked them if they would consider taking part in the Lowestoft Santa Run, they saw it as a perfect way to thank the charity for its support – and she hoped others would follow their lead.

She said: 'Care and support from EACH has made an enormous difference to our lives. Ellie absolutely loves visiting the hospice and ticks off the days on the calendar until her next visit.

'She always has fun there and she hides when I come to pick her up and she does not want to leave. When Ellie visits the hospice she not a child with a condition – she is just a child, like everybody else.'

'Visits to the hospice also means time for me to relax and spend quality time with my son Matthew. The family support team at EACH have bee a great help to Matthew, coming to visit and answer his questions.

'I do not think people realise that having an unwell child impacts on the whole family.'

Jennie and her children have not set a fund-raising target for their run but they have already raised more than �1,000 for EACH by organising a fete at Ellie's previous school, Roman Hill Middle. She added: 'It will be great fun and I hope lots of people will join us. If people can't take part I hope that they can come along and cheer us all on.'

The run is open to people of all ages and abilities and takes place on a course of about 1.5 miles.

A spokesman for EACH said: 'Lowestoft seafront will be awash with Santas walking, jogging or running along the seafront starting and finishing at Claremont Pier. So please come out and support us.'

Entry is �10 for adults (14 and over), which includes a Santa suit, and �5 for children aged 13 and under, including a Santa hat. To enter and for more information call 01473 237240 or visit www.each.org.uk/events/santaruns/

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