Garden is a dream come true

By Laura Payne Thursday 13 December 2012 Updated: 02/01 11:18

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Buy photos » Mum Meggie Feeney thanks Lee Trunks, from WellChild, and his team for all their hard work. Picture by Jon Mullis 45.012.040.sol.jm2

WATCHING their children play safely in the garden is something most parents are likely to take for granted.

But when the sons of one Shirley couple venture outside, it is not for the happy and relaxing time enjoyed by most families.

Meggie Feeney and Phillip Hughes's children, Jake, 11, and Mason, 1, have Dravet Syndrome, a rare and complex form of epilepsy.

The condition is slightly different for each boy but they both have to endure severe seizures which can strike at any moment and it means they are at risk of falling and injuring themselves while playing in the garden.

Meggie told the Observer: "The seizures make them very upset and the little one is not yet two.

"He doesn't understand and he gets upset, it makes him very unsteady on his feet.

"It's a case of trying to build them up and get used to it but it's just horrible and it must be so scary for them."

The boys have been unable to play alone in their garden because of the constant worry, endured by their parents, that they could fall and hurt themselves.

But this uncertainty has now changed thanks to the charity WellChild whose volunteers have transformed the family's garden into a safe haven for the brothers.

Gone are the paving slabs and steps and in their place is special safety grass and a play bark area with swings, all of which is accessible via a ramp.

The garden was specially created thanks to Helping Hands, a part of WellChild, which offers to make over a room or garden for families with sick children.

And it was clear from the emotion in Meggie's voice when she spoke to the Observer that the garden will have a huge impact on her sons' lives, as well as her own.

She said: "I have to let them be boys and let them live like little boys, but it has not been very safe.

"Last summer it was awful. Mason wanted to go in the garden and I had to be on both their tails to make sure they didn't hurt themselves, but this garden will allow them to be safe.

"To the people who worked on the garden I want to say you are letting us live a normal life and it's going to impact on me because I can now watch my kids play safely.

"I just hope and pray we have a good summer so they can play outside and that we have snow this winter so we can go out and build a huge snowman.

"It's just a dream come true."

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Buy photos» Alistair Higginbottom from WellChild cuts some decking to size. Picture by Jon Mullis 45.012.040.sol.jm3

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Buy photos» Chris Thewlis rakes some bark chippings into place. Picture by Jon Mullis 45.012.040.sol.jm4

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