Seren is eleven years old. She has had complex uncontrolled epilepsy since birth, experiencing up to 100 seizures daily.
Seren has undergone three lots of complex major brain surgery. Before September 2019, she spent 18 months out of education because the family could not find a mainstream school that would support her.
Pili Pala is Welsh for ‘butterfly’. It is the name of the special needs unit in Llwyn-Yr-Eos School, where Seren now attends. They provide specialist education and support for children who have profound and multiple learning difficulties. They are made up of 1 teacher and 8 teaching assistants, including Laura Mayos and Seren’s two 1:1’s Michelle Mansell and Janice Jones.
Since joining the school in September 2019, the Pili Pala team have given Seren and mum Ruth their lives back. For the first time ever, Seren has been busy making new friends and was able to take part in a Christmas production. During lockdown, when Seren was shielding, the staff kept in touch with the family in thoughtful ways, sending special videos to help ease her fears of the outside world.
Seren’s mum Ruth nominated the Pili Pala team for an Epilepsy Action Helping Hands Hero award. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making Seren feel like a normal child. In her previous school, she never had friends. She was never invited to a party or a play date. Now Seren is encouraged to mix with mainstream children and they all accept her. The change in her is just amazing – Seren is flying. She is free of all the stress of school life. The Pili Pala ladies are angels in a school. They’ve made Seren feel like family and encouraged her to be herself. Seren can have a seizure in school and feel safe. As parents, we have so much confidence in them all.”
Accepting the award, Miss Mayos said: “We are in total shock to receive this award but so over the moon. It’s a pleasure to have Seren as part of the Pili Pala family. We greatly believe in inclusion here and pride ourselves in having experienced staff to take on her care, so she can experience real school life and give the family the break that they need. We will continue to support Seren and her family for however long they need us. Thank you for this amazing award.”