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Purple day to highlight Paddy's plight

By This is Exeter  |  Posted: April 11, 2009

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A LOVING single mum from Newton Abbot has embarked on a one-woman mission to raise awareness about her son's rare illness.

Fiona Breslan, 31, of Osborne Street, held a colour-themed day to highlight the severe epileptic disorder her youngest son suffers from.

Three-year-old Paddy has Dravet's Syndrome and almost died at Christmas from a prolonged seizure.

She said: "Knowing I could have lost him spurred me into making a difference in my own way."

Paddy suffered his first seizure when he was 16 weeks old. Aged 18 months he was diagnosed with Dravet's Syndrome, a progressive childhood neuro-developmental disorder which leads to seizures.

A severe form of epilepsy, it affects one child born out of 40,000.

He also suffers from behavioural problems and learning and development delays which have resulted in poor co-ordination.

Fiona, mum to Rhys, six, and Paddy, decided to tackle the subject head-on after dealing with 'insensitive' comments.

She said: "People can sometimes make insensitive remarks or treat Paddy differently from others. I wanted to raise awareness. He is an absolute pleasure to be around. He can be very manic but he is a joy and everyone who meets him falls in love with him.

"Because he is prone to seizures he has to wear a protective helmet. When they come on, he just collapses quickly and he needs to wear it to stop himself from seriously hurting himself," she said.

"Quite often he can get overexcited which can trigger a seizure. It can be a struggle and it's a stressful condition to have to deal with. He may have a few weeks seizure-free but it can happen at any time."

At Christmas he fell ill with flu which exacerbated the syndrome and he was rushed to hospital suffering a prolonged fit.

It was the second time Paddy spent Christmas Day in hospital, having spent the occasion there in 2006.

But he pulled through and Fiona decided to put on a 'purple day' at Magpie's pre-school, where Paddy attends, and a pub raffle in the Jolly Abbot, East Street.

Paddy's friends put on their best purple clothes to bake colour-coordinated cakes and play games.

All Saint's (Marsh) Primary School, where Rhys attends, also got involved with the event by proudly wearing purple-coloured attire.

Fiona said: "The pub quiz and a raffle in the Jolly Abbot raised £564. The amount of people who came along was unbelievable.

"It was great. I hope to do something else in the future, because both the events were great and people responded really well."

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    Fiona, Newton Abbot  |  April 14 2009, 9:43PM

    Disappointed, Newton Abbot where do I start. Last i knew Nova Scotia is in Canada not America. I have been in contact with Cassisy and her mum as the reporter at the Herald is well aware of, both of them are very pleased with the work we put into Purple Day. I have not once claimed Purple Day as my idea, but as I didn't write the article then don't think I can be blamed for the fact that those details were left out. I also asked Emma to thank the people that helped and those who donated prizes, but it was a small article and things were left out. As a local paper the Herald is going to give information about local families, and it makes a good story to talk about a local single mum and her severely disabled son. Any help you would like to give us next year, disappointed will be gladly accepted, drop me an e-mail with your ideas, i'm guessing you have quite alot coz you obviously have time on your hands. All I wanted to do was make a small bit of difference to peoples attitudes about my baby boy, our intention was not to raise money, but people wanted to donate. Living with severe epilepsy is not easy for me or my two boys but I wouldnt change a thing because I am lucky to have been sent such special boys, I don't for one minute think I am some kind of hero or something special, but I want people to accept Paddy for his differences. Your comments are hurtful, there are always more than one side to a story

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    Gemma, Newton Abbot  |  April 14 2009, 6:37PM

    In response to disappointed's comments, yes you are correct that the (canadian) girl did set up the whole idea of purple day. She wanted to raise awareness of epilepsy. Fiona having seen this group decided it would be a nice idea and a tribute to Cassidy and every other child suffering from the condition to try and bring purple day to the uk. Fiona would be the first to say it was def not her 'idea' and nor has she claimed it to be. She was also disappointed it was made out to be a one woman mission as lots of people helped out to make the purple day quiz, raffle and the party at magpies a success. As others have stated the article would have been a page long if the Herald had put in all the facts and Fionas comments. As the Herald is a local paper it obviously concentrated on the local aspect of the story. Instead of slating what Fiona and others including myself achieved put you're brain to good use and think of ways to help us( and Cassidy ) next year!!

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    BEENY, newton abbot  |  April 13 2009, 2:42PM

    well said jobsworth... true fiona did not say it was her idea just she held a 'purple day' and im pretty sure fiona would have done something else if purple day had never come about, this is a hard working single mum who has the strain of a disabled son as far as im concerned all the recognision should go to her for all her hard work and determination in wanting the best for both her boys.... well done fiona

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    Jobsworth, Torbay  |  April 11 2009, 7:48PM

    @ Disappointed - if you read the article Fiona did not state it was her idea, merely she wanted a "purple day." Not quite the same is it? And of the course the Herald might have edited her comments down as they have the right to. Explaining about the American girl would have needed at least one or two more paragraphs, and it would still not have made any difference to what she was trying to achieve.

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    disappointed, newton abbot  |  April 11 2009, 10:03AM

    I am pleased that they managed to raise so much money but I am disappionted to see that Fiona has made out that this was her idea. There is a group on facebook which Fiona is a member of, created by a young american girl. This young girl set up 'purple day' as she herself suffers from epilepsy, it has since turned from a little american town doing this to most of america and other parts of the world. I just think some recognision should be given to this young girl as Fiona would not have done this without her help.

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