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Ellie May’s four-legged friend helps her cope with life with Type 1 diabetes

A young girl from Holywell with Type 1 diabetes has help to manage her condition from a special four-legged friend.

Eight-year-old Ellie May Hodges was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was just two. The relentless nature of the condition can have an emotional as well as physical impact, but Ellie receives valuable support from her best friend Lilly, a seven-month-old Golden Labrador.

Ellie May Hodges with her Golden Labrador Lilly

Ellie’s mum, Georgina, said, “Ellie’s confidence has grown so much since having Lilly. Life with Type 1 diabetes can be tough and Ellie does struggle sometimes. Lilly is someone that Ellie can talk to without judgement and makes her feel safe. We can’t imagine life without Lilly now.”

Type 1 diabetes is a complex, lifelong condition where the body cannot produce the hormone insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood. It affects around 19,000 people in Wales and must be carefully managed day-to-day, including getting insulin by injecting or using an insulin pump. People with Type 1 diabetes also need to check their blood glucose levels are not too low or too high by using a testing device several times a day.

Georgina added, “Ellie is a very strong and determined young lady but she does get upset sometimes and feel different from other children. Managing her blood sugar levels during the night is a big worry for myself as a parent and for Ellie herself. We always reassure her that there are lots of other families that have children with Type 1 diabetes and she is not alone.”

Lilly, the seven-month old puppy, will soon start specialist training as a Medical Detection Dog, to help Ellie identify when her blood sugars are too low or high.

Georgina continued, “The training will teach Lilly to wake Ellie at night when her blood sugars are too low or high, helping Ellie rest and sleep better. It will bring so much relief to the whole family, knowing someone is there to watch over her.”

The Hodges family are now organising a dog show on 14 September to help raise funds for Diabetes UK Cymru.

Joseph Cuff, National Fundraiser, Diabetes UK Cymru, said, “Diabetes is more than just a physical condition and the day-to-day demands of can be a constant struggle. It’s brilliant to hear the difference Lilly has made to Ellie May’s life, helping her cope with the emotional side of life with Type 1 diabetes. We’re so grateful to the Hodges family for putting on this event to support us and hope lots of people take the opportunity to show off their own four-legged friends.”

There will be 13 categories in the fun family dog show on 14 September, including Cutest Puppy, Best Rescue Dog, Best Family Dog and a Fancy Dress competition. Entrants will be judged by professional dog trainer Michelle Lowe of In Charge Training.

The event at Rhys-Y-Cae show fields will include craft stalls, a bouncy castle, food stalls and a raffle supported by local businesses. It costs £2 to enter and starts at 10.00am, with the dog show starting at 11.30am. For more information, contact Georgina on 07726 599252.