A place at a Bridlington nursery for fragile Portia

Portia Fletcher with staff members, Paige Hoggard, Rev Mark Carey, Jo Traves, Donna Sheilds, John Dixon, Natasha Thorne Portia Fletcher, at Christ Church Early Learning. Picture by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2k
Portia Fletcher with staff members, Paige Hoggard, Rev Mark Carey, Jo Traves, Donna Sheilds, John Dixon, Natasha Thorne Portia Fletcher, at Christ Church Early Learning. Picture by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2k

A toddler has been given the opportunity to attend a preschool despite having a rare condition.

Portia Fletcher, of Flamborough, was born with Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), a rare skin condition that caused her to spend the first year of her life in intensive care.

Portia Fletcher pictured with her One to One Natasha Thorne. Pictures by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2b

Portia Fletcher pictured with her One to One Natasha Thorne. Pictures by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2b

Her care requires specialist training as any trauma or small amount of friction can cause painful blood blisters on the skin.

Christ Church Early Learning accepted Portia into their school despite other schools refusing as they were unable to care for her.

Portia’s nana, Dot Fletcher, said: “Our disability care worker gave us names of nurseries when one pulled out and Christ Church immediately said yes.

“We owe a lot to them it was amazing for them to go. She is learning a lot from other kiddies more than what we could teach her at home.”

Portia Fletcher pictured with her One to One Natasha Thorne. Pictures by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2f

Portia Fletcher pictured with her One to One Natasha Thorne. Pictures by Paul Atkinson NBFP PA1841-2f

Two members of staff went to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for training in order to be able to care for Portia.

Donna Shields, member of staff at Christ Church, said: “She came to us in May or June time last year as no other preschool would take her due to the training that is needed.

“Our staff had to go to Birmingham for training in how to care for her. It’s the first time she has been able to mingle with other children.”

This opportunity has shown how far Portia has come as when she was born her family had to hold her on a silk pillow as she was so fragile.

Now, the three-year-old can join in with other children on the climbing frame and play with sand and water tables, according to her one-to-one Natasha Thorne.

Portia’s nana added: “She couldn’t play with sand before because it was too rough on her skin. When her brothers went to the beach she had to stay with me.

“She is such a clever little girl and such an adorable pleasant child, always laughing, even though she is always in pain.”

Portia can be given morphine for the pain but her family try to only give her it “when necessary”.

The condition currently has no cure so the only treatment available is to relieve symptoms and prevent infections.

Portia’s mum, Kirsty Fletcher, said: “There are three forms of EB and Portia has the middle one [dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa]. Her life span is 15-30.”

The toddler has taught herself what she can and can’t do – even learning how to walk even though her toes are fused together.

Dot added: “We bought her shoes but she can’t wear them.

"She can’t bend her feet enough to wear hard shoes so she’s still in baby pods.”

Christ Church Early Learning are holding a bake-sale on October 24-25, 9am-3pm, to help raise awareness and raise money for Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research Association (DEBRA).