Lancashire girl Holly Redman was born with a rare condition which means she has a high risk of choking. Despite this, Holly has become the youngest person to paraglide from a mountain in Turkey at the age of five. AASMA DAY talks to her proud dad Carl Redman
“Anything you can do, I can do too.”
This sums up the attitude of five-year-old Holly Redman who is adventurous and fiercely independent.
Holly, who lives in Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, was born with a rare condition which meant she was unable to swallow.
Her parents Carl and Steph realised something was wrong soon after Holly was born as she couldn’t feed, her breathing was laboured and she had saliva coming out of her mouth.
Holly was admitted to the neonatal unit and tests revealed she was unable to swallow as she was born with her foodpipe not reaching her stomach.
Babies born unable to swallow are known as Tofs (Tracheo Oesophageal Fistula, Oesophageal Atresia).
When Holly was one day old, she underwent a Tof repair at Manchester Children’s Hospital which was a nine-hour procedure to “replumb” her foodpipe and allow her to eat.
The rare condition is called EFTUD2 Haploinsufficiency and is caused by a missing chromosome.
Holly has a number of health complications and, as she grows, her scar tissue grows making her food pipe narrow and causing choking difficulties.
Dad Carl, 42, a volunteer chef at St Catherine’s Hospice and a food blogger, explains: “Holly’s condition is genetic and she will have it all her life.
“Because of the way her throat is constructed, she needs to be closely monitored at all mealtimes as there is a high risk of choking.
“Holly can actually choke and breathe at the same time, which is a very unpleasant experience.
“Holly has started school and has one-to-one support in school and at mealtimes.
“Despite this, Holly loves her food and enjoys experimenting with different flavours and likes eating seafood and octopus and doesn’t mind chillies.
“Holly is delayed with speech and language skills compared to her peers and she has recently been fitted with hearing aids for congenital deafness.
“Holly has four different medicines that she has to take three times a day and she suffers frequent chest and respiratory infections.
“However, despite all this, Holly takes life full on and is very strong willed and independent.
“She is a very feisty character and if she wants to do something, she just does it.”
Carl and wife Steph, 31, who is studying forensic psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, also have children Ben, 10, Amy, eight, Toby, six and twins Amelia and James, two.
The family enjoy holidaying in Turkey and have been to Liberty Lykia Hotel in Olu Deniz four times.
It was during their most recent visit that Holly experienced her paragliding thrill.
Carl says: “Where we go to in Turkey is absolutely fantastic for children.
“The paragliding point is just by the main restaurant by the sea and every time we have gone, I have said: ‘I am going to do that.’
“This time, I decided I was definitely going to do it and my eight-year-old daughter Amy said she wanted to do it, too.
“The take-off point is 6,500 feet and you jump from Babadag Mountain over Olu Deniz.
“We did it and it was a wonderful experience and you could see amazing views over Olu Deniz and the Blue Lagoon.
“When we came in to land, Steph and the other children were waiting to meet us.
“After hearing us say what a fantastic experience it was and seeing her sister Amy’s beaming face, Holly immediately said: ‘I want to do it.’”
Mum Steph is scared of heights and flying, but after seeing her daughter Amy’s happy face and hearing Holly’s determination to do the same, she decided to face her fears and paraglide from the mountain, too.
Carl says: “The minimum age to fly was five years and at five years and three months, Holly became the youngest person ever to paraglide from Babadag Mountain.
“Another five-year-old had done it before, but they were almost six.
“Holly’s pilot Jay Jay flew her down and was brilliant with her.
“Holly absolutely loved it and keeps saying she wants to do it again.
“Her smile was cheek to cheek beaming and was fantastic to see.
“She had no fear at all and hopefully, at such a young age, it will be one of her first real vivid memories.
“Now our other children say they want to do it, too!
“It was great for me and Steph to see such enjoyment and thrill on Holly’s face.
“Holly is fiercely independent and if you try to help her with something like zipping her coat, she is adamant that she can do it herself.
“Being so determined that she would do this paragliding experience shows that side of her nature and it is part of her personality which helps her take her health problems in her stride.
“We are very proud of her.”