Home builders' helping hand for Ella, 12

Torbay Weekly

The family of a 12-year-old South Devon schoolgirl with a serious heart condition have been given a helping - and comforting - hand by local house builders Cavanna Homes.

They have donated two lifesaving defibrillators to the family and school of Ella Halfyard

One defibrillator has been installed at Torquay Girls’ Grammar School and the other is portable, which means that Ella and her family have peace of mind whether she’s at home or out and about.

Cavanna Homes’ Sales Advisor Kevyn Dixon and Site Manager Willie Whitelaw, first became aware of Ella’s condition when her parents Lizzie and Tom Halfyard reserved a new five-bedroom home at Lyme View in the village of Holcombe near Dawlish. On the day they were due to collect the keys to their new home at the end of March, the couple were contacted by their daughter’s school to say an ambulance had been called for Ella.

Lizzie explained: “The alarm was raised because she’d been unresponsive at school and although she recovered, this brought home how serious her condition is and how vital it is that she has a defibrillator with her at all times.”

The Halfyard’s were first alerted to Ella’s condition after she noticed some changes in her heart rate at school when resting, which was also confirmed by her PE Teacher. As a precaution, the keen young sportswoman had a temporary ECG monitor fitted at Torbay Hospital in February, but later the same week she was rushed to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children who were very concerned by the results.

Lizzie said: “The results from the monitor flagged that Ella’s heart was beating too fast and could stop at any minute. It was a very scary time for us and so unexpected.”

Ella’s condition is now managed by beta-blockers which slow her heart rate and she will continue to be monitored for the next three years.

The equipment has been life-changing for Ella and provided reassurance for her parents and her two sisters Megan (15) and Rosie (7). “Ella can now attend school trips and join in activities without feeling like she’s missing out,” said dad Tom.