Campaign to help Fylde coast teenager struck down by devastating illness

A teenage girl from Cleveleys who was previously fit and healthy has been struck down by a rare debilitating illness which has left her unable to walk unaided.

Sunday, 19th December 2021, 6:16 pm

Maddison Porter, 14, who is known to friends as Maddie, started passing out at school in April this year and began to lose weight.

Her worried parents, Mark and Lucy Porter of Derby Road, Cleveleys, were told by one doctor that she had an eating disorder but they insisted it was something else and took her for further tests.

Eventually, after suffering a full blown seizure, Maddie was diagnosed with Encephalitis lethargica, an illness characterised by high fevers, double vision, lethargy and in extreme cases, deep coma.

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Maddison Porter has had to use a wheelchair after becoming ill

Maddie a pupil at St Aidan's High School in Preesall, spent almost three months in Manchester Children's Hospital, during which time she had to undergo a series of gruelling plasma transfusions.

Although Maddie, a former pupil of Shakespeare Primary School in Fleetwood, is now out of hospital, she cannot walk outside independently and needs a rollator frame to move about indoors for very short distances.

The once confident and independent girl who enjoyed sports now needs help with daily living from her parents and can only stay awake for a couple of hours at a time before having to sleep, and has to be home-schooled.

But in the face of such trauma, there is thankfully one thing that seems to be helping Maddie - hydrotherapy.

Maddie Porter before her illness

Now Lucy and Mark, who are both NHS health workers and are originally from Fleetwood, have set up a fundraising page to help them pay for regular hydrotherapy sessions at a facility in Over Wyre.

Lucy, 37, a district nurse at the North Shore practice on Bristol Avenue, says she has been staggered by the generosity of people on the Fylde coast, some of them complete strangers,

She and Mark, 39, who works as an occupational therapy assistant at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, were trying to fund the hydrotherapy sessions themselves so friends set up the funding page on their behalf.

Lucy said there had been many tears but as parents they are doing all they can to help Maddie recover, even though they don't yet know how her illness will progress.

Mark and Lucy Porter are doing everything they can to help their daughter, Maddison

She said: "It has been tough to see our playful, confident girl have to go through all this, it just came as a bolt from the blue.

"All that time at the Manchester Hospital was so hard on Maddie and it was difficult for the whole family because while I was there, Mark had to look after our son Thomas, who is only nine.

"But we were able to stay together for a few weeks at Ronald McDonald House, who do a brilliant job.

"Maddie's medication makes her anxious and she has lost so much weight but when she was in Manchester Hospital, she was having hydrotherapy sessions and they were really beneficial.

The marathon fundraiser at the Unique Training Centre

"We've managed to book a few weeks of sessions at the Lakeside Hydrotherapy Pool in Hambleton and we're still trying to raise funds so we can afford some more.

"We didn't want to ask people for help but friends said we couldn't afford to be proud about it.

"The kindness that people have showed has been incredible, people who we don't even know have helped us.

"Maddie's school, St Aidan's, helped us set up our home schooling classes, they've been brilliant."

Among those helping out have been Gary Savage and his Savage MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) club onChurch Street in Blackpool, where 39 year old Mark is a member.

And another club, the Unique Training Centre on Talbot Road, Blackpool, run by Scot Tudhope, joined forces with Gary's group and raised f£400 for Maddie by staging a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Rollathon.

Scot said: "We all got together because we wanted to help raise funds for a lovely young girl going through a really bad time."

Anyone wanting to help raise can visit the funding page on