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Health & Fitness Arriva helps teenager with Tourette's syndrome to train up assistance dog

14:40  05 december  2022
14:40  05 december  2022 Source:   kentonline.co.uk

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By smcpolin@thekmgroup.co.uk (Sean McPolin)

A bus company is helping to raise £10,000 for a teenager with severe Tourette's syndrome.

Arriva wants to help generate the funds for Ellie Bourner, from Maidstone, so she can train her new dog Jasper.

Arriva have welcomed Ellie Bourner, 16, from Maidstone, and her therapy dog Jasper to their depots in Maidstone and Gillingham. Picture: Arriva © Kent Online Arriva have welcomed Ellie Bourner, 16, from Maidstone, and her therapy dog Jasper to their depots in Maidstone and Gillingham. Picture: Arriva

The 16-year-old's new dog needs private training to help recognise and react to her tics and seizures, and it's expected to cost thousands.

Ellie was coping well in recent years until her recent therapy dog Toby became unwell and unable to help, forcing the Maidstone teen "back into her shell".

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She has been forced to delay her education as a result of the high costs of training.

Now, Arriva has invited Ellie and her labrador Jasper to their depots in Maidstone and Gillingham to carry out some training exercises in a controlled environment.

A spokesman for the bus firm added: "To continue our support, we’re now hosting a charity dress down day for all of our drivers in Kent, Essex and Hertfordshire, to raise money to help as much as we can for this incredible duo.

Ellie Bourner, from Maidstone, who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, with Jasper © Kent Online Ellie Bourner, from Maidstone, who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome, with Jasper

"The dress down day will take place on Wednesday, December 7, with donations being made into an online collection pot as well as cash collection pots at each of the depots front desks."

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Ellie's family, of Gilbert Way, Maidstone, are hoping to raise enough money and finish training as quickly as possible so she can gain her independence and go to Hadlow College in Tonbridge to study animal management.

Speaking previously, Ellie's mum Elisa explained how her daughter suffers from anxiety and Irlen syndrome, which causes difficulties with visual perceptual processing.

Elisa, 42, said: “I didn’t know anything about Tourette’s syndrome until two years ago and I had to learn quickly.

“It is hard as a parent to see your daughter coming out with the most awful swear words, tics, hurting herself, falling to the floor after her legs have given way – it’s heartbreaking to see your child like that when she led a very normal childhood.

Ellie's previous assistance dog, Toby © Kent Online Ellie's previous assistance dog, Toby

“The last couple of years have been really tough with lockdown and Tourette’s, which is why we decided on an assistance dog.

“They eased her tics and anxiety. Toby has been really poorly and has to retire and we have to train up a labrador puppy to help give Ellie a better chance of living an independent life.”

To donate, click here.

The full cost of Jasper’s training, through Dogs for Jobs in London, is expected to come to around £10,000.

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