Inspirational Ella wins major charity award

Ella Chapple, centre, with her family and helpers.
Ella Chapple, centre, with her family and helpers.

A brave little girl who lost her eyesight and suffers from a rare genetic condition has won a national award from a disability charity.

Ten-year-old Ella Chapple, from Alnmouth, was named Young Deafblind Person of the Year at the Sense Awards Ceremony, for her outstanding contribution to the deafblind community.

Her family found out she had won at a special ceremony hosted by elite cyclist and Paralympian gold medallist, Steve Bate, in London, last Thursday.

The Sense Awards is a national celebration of the achievements of people with sensory impairments and those supporting them.

Known as the Fairy Queen, brave Ella, who overcame cancer as a toddler, was born without irises, suffering from the rare genetic condition aniridia, that can lead to blindness.

Ella was only acknowledged as deafblind – a combination of sight and hearing loss that affects a person’s ability to communicate and get around – three years ago.

Prior to her late diagnosis, she had struggled to access learning. She also lost her useful vision, due to head banging through frustration, despite five operations to try to save her sight.

However, since being recognised as deafblind, and finally being able to access the educational support she requires to learn, Ella has made rapid headway with her development in just 10 months.

Impressing those around her with her zest for life, Ella, who has a younger brother and sister, has been recognised as one of the most inspirational young deafblind people in the country.

Her mother Elly said: “I’m delighted that Ella has won Sense’s Young Person of the Year Award.

“For her entire life, she has had to overcome and battle more than most of us confront in an entire lifetime and she does it with the determination of a superhero and has a great sense of humour.

“Prior to her late deafblind diagnosis, we struggled to access the correct support for her. It’s down to her eight intervenors that she’s where she is today and I couldn’t be more thankful.

“We are very proud of her and it is wonderful that she is getting the recognition she deserves.”

Her father, James, added: “Ella is the bravest girl in the world. She has been through enormous difficulties medically, but she has faced each one with the strength of a thousand men.

“She was suddenly thrust into a world of unknowns and darkness, but she has come back fighting again and is going from strength to strength.”

Sense supports people who are deafblind, have sensory impairments or complex needs.