Polly was a busy toddler and meeting all her milestones until at 18 months she had her first seizure. We hoped it was a one off but two weeks later another followed. Her seizures then became more frequent and varied. Her development started to slow. Polly has since been through six different medications, surgery for a brain stimulation implant and a medically prescribed extremely restrictive diet yet still the seizures persist. She can sometimes have hundreds and hundreds a day. It is likely she will always have to live with seizures. Polly is now 5 and as a result of her severe epilepsy Polly also has a learning disability and many behavioural challenges. This makes many aspects of life very difficult for our family. Every single day is woven with challenges – it is exhausting.
Last summer we were feeling very anxious about the long six weeks ahead and how we’d manage day to day life without the amazing support of school. We were told about The Hollow Lane Club and offered six day-long sessions. I felt despondent about ‘sending’ Polly away from us for those days but knew that she needed the stimulation and we needed the respite. When I was sent through the timetable tears ran down my face. Tears of happiness and emotion that a group of people had put together such an incredible mix of activities. This wasn’t just colouring in – they were going to the zoo, to a trampoline park, they had a theatre company coming in to do a puppet show, Peppa Pig was visiting one day. This was above and beyond and I was blown away and so touched that so much effort and planning had gone into this, by people who clearly thought our children were as wonderful as we do. Every one of those six days Polly bolted in, barely stopping for a kiss goodbye, the staff all knew her, it felt like a second family. My heart sang.
Polly had a series of amazing experiences while we were able to have a slower day, I was able to sit in the sun and read a book with my older child, a rare and precious treat. Polly talked in the past tense for the first time after one of her days with the Hollow Lane Club and said she had seen monkeys at the zoo. The impact it had on her was clear to see.
I now no longer approach the holidays with the same sense of trepidation. I also look forward to accessing the Saturday club sessions that The Hollow Lane Club run in the future.
The kindness and warmth of the people that run and work at this club shines through – from the ambitious programme of activities to the way everyone’s eyes light up when my little girl runs towards them. Life-changing is an overused phrase but the Hollow Lane Club really is, for us and for so many families facing similar challenges.