Three days after she was born, Joelle, now nine, was diagnosed with quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy due to her mother Fiona contracting a cold-type virus in the early stages of pregnancy.
Fiona explained: “It is estimated that one in 200 babies contract congenital cytomegalovirus in the UK, only 10% of whom will have problems.
“Unfortunately, it is a virus which can have devastating effects on an unborn baby, mainly loss of hearing, blindness, liver damage and brain damage.
“Joelle has suffered extensive damage to her brain, causing calcification and resulting in quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy (CP).
“This basically means Joelle has very limited use of any of her limbs, no speech and struggles with head control.
“As a result of CP, Joelle also suffers from severe learning difficulties, global development delays and epilepsy.
“However, her sense of humour has luckily remained intact, along with her ability to smile and giggle.”
Joelle attends the Grove School in Berwick but is likely to transfer to the new unit at Duns due to open in the old high school building later this year.
The family own their home in Eyemouth, and that means that they do not get any state assistance with adaptations needed within the house to accommodate Joelle’s needs.
So far, they have fitted out a wet-room and made other adaptations such as widening doorways, fitting ramps and buying a relaxing chair to suit Joelle’s growing needs.
“We are now struggling to fund the extra ceiling hoist payments and require our drive to be widened to allow for her to access our property and ensure her safety,” said Fiona.
When Carol McGeoghegan, of Eyemouth, and Dawn O’Callaghan, of Coldingham, heard about the family’s struggle to make home life more comfortable for Joelle, they offered to help raise funds, and they’ll be holding a Hollywood-style ball this Saturday, January 28, at Heather’s Restaurant at Eyemouth Golf Club.
They have set up a JustGiving page, raising £1,030 so far, and they are hoping to raise another £2,500 from the ball.
“We have themed it as a night with the stars and will be transforming Heather’s Restaurant into a Hollywood lounge club for the evening,” said Carol.
“Local businesses have given us overwhelming support, and we are holding an auction on the night as well as a raffle.”
Fiona added: “Everyone who comes into contact with Joelle comments on how happy she is.
“On good days, her smile lights up the room and her laughter is contagious.
“On a bad day, we have a cuddle and an early night and look to tomorrow.
“Nothing in life should be taken for granted, and every moment should be treasured and kept safe to make the darker days bearable.
“Joelle is my inspiration and her little brother Sonny my rock.
“With my partner Michael’s love and support, we are a thriving, happy family.”
Go to www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fiona-lough to help Joelle.