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Fundraise on the First: Hornchurch mum praises staff as ‘first class’

PUBLISHED: 12:43 30 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:58 30 March 2015

Allie Marchington with her children Nick, 17, and Becky, 15

Allie Marchington with her children Nick, 17, and Becky, 15

Archant

The hundreds of families who have seen their children blossom at First Step have all experienced different highs and lows over the years.

But they have all been struck by one sentiment – namely that once you attend, you never truly leave.

Allie Marchington’s story is the perfect embodiment of this.

Twelve years on from her daughter Becky’s time at the charity, Allie works there full-time and her son Nick, 17, is a volunteer.

Allie, 48, of Hawkinge Way, Hornchurch, has now shared her experiences with the Recorder as part of our Fundraise on the First campaign with First Step.

She said: “Becky was born in August 1999 and progressed completely normally, until she had a seizure at nine months old, which was almost an hour long.

“Doctors just said it was a febrile seizure, a type young children can have if they have a high temperature. Three months later she had another one.”

It was only when Becky was 16 months old, and had been given genetic testing, that her family were told she had a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.

Allie said: “I felt angry, scared and frightened, it was awful.

“Dravet syndrome is a life-limiting and life-threatening epilepsy.

“The doctors had put her on a type of anti-epileptic drug that was aggravating the seizures.”

Children with Dravet are at a higher risk of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy and typically experience a progressive decline in development from the age of two.

Becky attended First Step, now in Tangemere Crescent, Hornchurch, from 2000 to 2002, enjoying music therapy and play sessions.

Allie said: “They helped her to say more and also helped her in things like sharing and waiting.

“She now speaks in sentences of around 10 to 11 words.”

Nick, a sixth form student at Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, in St Mary’s Lane, Upminster, helps to run the charity’s siblings’ club.

He said: “First Step has done so much for my sister. I wanted to give something back.”

Now on the correct combination of drugs, Becky, who attends Ravensbourne School, in Neave Crescent, Harold Hill, has between two to eight seizures a month.

Allie said: “She has a fantastic character and sense of humour.

“First Step gave me a place to come and relax and not worry about my child’s uniqueness.

“The staff and volunteers are first class; they are amazing.”

If you are planning a fundraiser for the campaign, email bethany.wyatt@archant.co.uk.

To receive a fundraising pack, call the charity's fundraising manager Michelle Mitchell on 01708 556355.

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