Grantham Journal Big Interview: Young carer Holly is the best big sister

Holly Needham was one of our Child Achiever winners at the Grantham is Great Awards 2015.
Holly Needham was one of our Child Achiever winners at the Grantham is Great Awards 2015.
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We were so impressed with all of our Child Achiever nominees, that every single one was named a winner.

Holly Needham has already achieved so much in her 12 years, supporting her parents as a young carer for her little brother, Alexander. We spoke to the family, who live on the Sunningdale estate.

* Could you tell us about Alexander’s condition, and the ways in which Holly helps take care of him?

Mum and Dad: Alexander is five and has an unknown neurological degenerative condition. This has resulted in him being unable to carry out the most basic functions. He has little control over his muscles, little use of his hands, cannot walk or talk. He is fed through a gastrostomy tube through his stomach. He has also been registered blind and has only limited hearing. Communication with Alexander is very difficult and he relies on everyone to do everything for him. Holly spends a lot of her time helping to look after Alexander, especially after school and at weekends. She will play with him, read to him, sort out his medicines, help get him dressed, change him. She will happily get up at night if he has been sick to help change him and put him into bed.

* How proud are you of Holly?

We are extremely proud of Holly and the way she has adapted to life with Alexander. Both her and Alexander were born in Reading and we lived there until Holly was about seven. We moved back to Grantham as Alexander’s condition worsened to be closer to our family support network. Holly has had to go through a number of school changes along with making new friends and missing old ones. She has also had to watch as her little brother has deteriorated without understanding why or what was happening to him. She has had to watch on as friends run around, play and fight with their siblings (something many of us take for granted as we get older) without having similar experiences herself. Through all of these changes she has remained a close and caring companion for Alexander and we couldn’t ask for a better daughter.

* Holly, how did you feel about winning, the Child Achiever award?

It came as quite a shock to me, and I was very happy to win the award.

* How do you help look after Alexander?

I help my brother by putting his milk feeding tube on, changing his clothes, talking and playing with him. I also love giving him lots of cuddles!

* What do you study at school and what is your dream job?

I study maths, English and sciences, Spanish and geography. My favourite subjects are maths and science. When I’m older I’d like to be a paediatric nurse.