Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Alfie and Ellen fundraising gathers pace to pay for US treatment

The plight of two brave children battling serious illness – whose families are desperately fundraising for potentially life-saving treatment in the US – has captured the hearts of everyone across the district. 

People from Newry, South Armagh and beyond have rallied to come up with impressive fundraisers for little Bessbrook girl Ellen Treanor and six-year Alfie Pentony from Newry – who will both travel to the US this year for pioneering treatment.

Three year old Ellen Treanor is currently half way through antibody treatment following successful chemo and radiotherapy last year for childhood cancer, neuroblastoma, and will take part in a US trial aimed at preventing the highly aggressive cancer from returning.   

Alfie, who suffers from incurable muscle wasting disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,  has been selected for pioneering gene editing treatment in America in May. 

Communities, schools and business throughout the district have taken on both causes, with regular and wide-ranging fundraising activities taking place in aid of both children on an almost daily basis.  

One such business helping to raise the vital funds for treatment and travel for Ellen and Alfie is Happy Faces Day Care in Silverbridge, which is currently running an innovative First Aid fundraiser for the Fight for Alfie campaign. 

The Happy Faces team present a cheque to Ellen’s Journey raised via a children’s sports day last August.
First Aid Trainer, Thomas McKenna, pictured with some of the local children who have completed their First Aid training at Happy Faces Day Care as part of fundraising for the Fight for Alfie cause

Fiona Campbell, Happy Faces proprietor, came up with the idea of the First Aid fundraiser as a way of raising funds for little Alfie, whilst also providing vital first aid skills to children, teenagers and adults in the area.  Such is the demand for the training that extra classes have been provided, with local schools, clubs and parents all taking part.

Fiona and her team also held a children’s sports day in August in aid of Ellen’s Journey, raising an incredible £2650 for the fund. 

The childcare provider has received high praise from local residents for her charitable endeavours for such heartfelt causes and her contribution to the community. 

Speaking to The Examiner about her fundraising efforts for both Alfie and Ellen, Fiona said,

“As a childcare setting we like to help fundraise in the area and as children are something close to our hearts, I wanted to help these children, Ellen and Alfie. The staff and families at Happy Faces are the best and always pull together to help us with fundraising.

“The First Aid for Alfie is something I think is amazing as, while fundraising for a fantastic cause, we are also training children and adults in basic CPR, Defib use etc so while helping Alfie we are educating our community to help others if the need arises.”

“We love helping others and in particular children, and we thank everyone in the community who has contributed to both these wonderful causes, as well as our First Aid Trainer, Thomas McKenna from the Community First Responders.”

A Pyjama Day in aid of the young Newry boy also takes place in Happy Days this Wednesday, ahead of a much-anticipated Valentine’s Ball in aid of Alfie at Newry’s Canal Court Hotel on Friday night. 

Newry football legend Pat Jennings has donated a Spurs jersey signed by some of the club’s former greats for auction at the ball. A signed Down jersey from the 1968 All-Ireland winning team is also up for grabs.

Ellen’s family also have some sports memorabilia up for auction – with a signed Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor gloves complete as well as boots worn by Pepe Reina, signed Celtic and Rangers jerseys and a host of other sports memorabilia donated by Stephen Rodgers at SR Signed Sports Memorabilia.

Both Alfie and Ellen’s charities shared over £19,000 between them and Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice, raised at a White Collar Boxing event in November last year

To keep up to date on fundraisers visit the Ellens Journey and Fight for Alfie pages on Facebook.