Painting trio brighten Nathan's homecoming

By Jennifer Lipman, September 8, 2011
Gabriella, Suzanne and Nathan Ellul in front of the mural

Gabriella, Suzanne and Nathan Ellul in front of the mural

For Suzanne Ellul, taking her five-year-old twins Nathan and Gabriella for a walk last week was more than a good way to spend an afternoon. It was something she thought she would never again have the opportunity to do.

Nathan was 15-months-old when he suffered a brain injury after his breathing stopped. He has since required full-time care.

Hospitalised for what the family thought would be nine months, his return was delayed by disagreements over Waltham Forest Council-funded home alterations. Mrs Ellul and her husband Ian, who works in IT, also had to raise £60,000 for further adaptation of their Woodford Green property, helped by a number of donors. For a time, the family lived in a rehabilitation centre in Surrey.

Now Nathan is home for good, with the continuing support of Camp Simcha, assisting children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.

Among the many ways the charity helped the family was getting volunteers to paint a bright aquatic mural on Nathan's bedroom wall to celebrate his homecoming.

The mural painters

The mural painters

Belinda Glynn - an art teacher who runs workshops for Camp Simcha children around London - completed the artwork with her mother Marilyn and daughter Georgina. "It has every colour in it and we used beading so he could feel it as well as see it," Ms Glynn explained. "It's very tactile. It took us a week but it was totally worth the time to give them the pleasure."

Mrs Ellul said Nathan was hugely taken with the artwork. "He particularly loves the red octopus playing the drum as it's his favourite colour. He can't stop staring at it. Gabriella wants one in her room."

Alerted to the work of Camp Simcha by the Jewish chaplain at Great Ormond Street Hospital, Mrs Ellul is grateful for its support.

"Their retreats are our annual holiday. Gabriella is used to having a disabled brother around. But it's often all about him. At Camp Simcha she comes first."

The family has benefited from Camp Simcha's Big Sister programme, where a volunteer befriends and helps the family. And during building work at the house, volunteers brought over prepared meals. "Some weeks it was the only hot food we had." The Elluls have also been helped by Wanstead and Woodford Synagogue members.

There are other obstacles to surmount - the Elluls are trying to raise the funds for an adapted car to take Nathan out in. But for now, Mrs Ellul is just enjoying having her family back together.

"On the night of the incident, we thought that was it. This is the start of a new chapter in our lives.

"Gabriella comes down in the morning, says hello and gives him a kiss. And it's just lovely being able to go out for a walk with them both for the first time in four years."

Last updated: 12:46pm, September 8 2011