A FAMILY from Seaford has received a welcome gift which will benefit their daughter who is severely visually impaired.
Ella Hibling was born with Group Strep B Meningitis and also has autism and epilepsy.
Her parents Steve Hibling and Alix Collins were put in touch with the organisation Seahaven Lionesses and asked what gift they would like for their six-year-old daughter.
The East Street residents are currently creating a sensory room for Ella and opted for a bubble mirror, which will help stimulate her vision.
As well as receiving support from the Seahaven Lionesses the family was put in touch with the Group B Strep charity and is also involved with Look Sussex and Blatchington Court Trust (BCT).
Both offer support to the visually impaired and the BCT funded a special trike for Ella which helps to exercise her left hand side, which is weaker than her right, and means she can enjoy a bike ride.
Alix said, “She was really poorly and she was in an incubator and on a ventilator, she had to have MRI scans and we were told she had brain damage.
“We were told she wouldn’t walk or talk but she is absolutely brilliant.
“She does have a lot of brain damage and it has affected her vision - her eyes are fine - it’s the pathway.”
The bubble mirror was a welcome boost for the family and Alix, 42, added, “We’re really grateful for the help, it’s great and with the Lionesses it’s local people’s money and we really appreciate that. It’s something we couldn’t afford.
“Ella doesn’t have the opportunity to watch things like TV. She does need other things to stimulate her and help her development.”
Maggie Chitty, president of the Lionesses, said, “We were delighted to be able to buy this equipment for Ella, but it would not have been possible without the support from the community at our fundraising events. Every penny raised goes back into helping those less fortunate than us.”
Ella enjoyed spending time at a nursery in Eastbourne for children with special needs and the Blue Door nursery in Seaford, before joing Chyngton School for a couple of years. The youngster now attends South Downs Community Special School.
As well as the gift from the Lionesses Alix and Steve are grateful to the other charities that have helped them and believe that such organisations along with Meningitis Awareness Week, which is at the end of September, are key to highlighting the infection.
Alix added, “I think we’re very lucky with Ella in a way, she has never lost anything. We do not have any other children and we don’t know any different.
“She has developed in her own way, albeit different to the majority of children.
“There has been a lot of support, childrens’ hospital care is fantastic.”
If you would like to join the Lionesses or find out more about the organisation then call 0845 833 2796 for further information.