When ten-year-old Ellie Kirk became ill just before Christmas, her first thought wasn’t for herself but for a local charity she was eager to support.
Ellie, from Westerfield, had signed up to take part in St Elizabeth Hospice’s annual Christmas Day Dip to raise money for the charity after they’d helped care for her great-grandma a few years ago. However, following a visit to hospital and a diagnosis of HSP (a rare blood condition that results in joint pain) she was advised by doctors not to take part.
Mum Cath Bright said: “Ellie came home from school in early December with a slight sore ankle, and five days later she couldn’t stand or walk. She was crying with pain and had swollen ankles and knees. Our GP was brilliant and sent us straight to the hospital for tests. We had a very tough 24 hours when we were waiting for results.
“When we were in the hospital, and Ellie needed a wheelchair, her first thought was how would she do the Christmas Day Dip! I’m so proud of her that she still wants to do it and raise money for the hospice so they can help others like us.”
Ellie’s great-grandma, Ellen Ward, was cared for at the hospice during the festive period in 2014 and died a few days after Christmas. Ellie had been waiting to turn ten so that she could take part in the Christmas Day Dip and support the charity that looked after her at the time.
Ellie, has now been given the all clear and has rearranged to do her dip during half term. Her mum has also arranged for some of those who regularly swim in the sea to join her so she’s not alone. “Ellie’s a little bit sad about having to rearrange her dip,” Cath explains. “It was a great atmosphere at the dip on Christmas Day and she was really excited to be doing it with a big crowd of people. Obviously there won’t be so many people on the beach in February but it would be lovely if a few people were able to come along and cheer her on.”
Ellie’s Valentine’s Day Dip will take place at 11am on Wednesday 14 February around 30m up (towards the docks) from Manning’s Amusements where the original Christmas Day Dip takes place each year. She’ll run in to the cold North Sea where she’ll submerge herself up to her shoulders before running out again to her waiting family.
Catherine Sheppard, events and challenges fundraiser at St Elizabeth Hospice, said: “We’re so pleased to hear that Ellie is much better now and we’re honoured that she still wants to do the dip and raise money for us. The hospice will be present at the dip and we’ll be taking along the charity’s mascot Woolly the sheep who will award her with her Christmas Day Dip medal when she’s completed her challenge.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor Ellie can do so at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellieandcatherine