What we do

The Daisy Garland charity was set up in November 2004 to keep Daisy's memory alive and to help other little children like her.

We fund an increasing number of Ketogenic Dietitians who work in National Health Hospitals treating hundreds of children with intractable epilepsy.

We are the only charity funding full-time Ketogenic Dietitians working within NHS hospitals nationwide - each dietitian costs up to £47,000 per annum. If you think you could help us fund our next Daisy Garland Ketogenic Dietitian go to HOW YOU CAN HELP. Be in touch today.

Epilepsy affects 1 in every 100 children in the UK
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Karen's Speech at the 10th Anniversary Daisy Garland Ball

We wanted to share with you the wonderful speech that the lovely Karen Ridley made at our 10th Anniversary Ball last month:

"Hello everybody. My name is Karen Ridley and I am Poppy’s mum. Poppy is 6 years old and is just one of the many children that The Daisy Garland has been supporting for over a year now.
I firstly wanted to say a huge thank you to David and Sara for inviting me to speak to you all on such a special occasion, The Daisy Garland 10 Year Anniversary and for the celebration of Daisy’s 16th birthday.
Wow, can I just say how amazing it is to be stood up here talking to you all?

To be standing here speaking to you all about our ketogenic journey over the last year is something I would never have imagined I would be doing just over a year ago , when we first found out about the diet. I was so desperate and so full of hope for it to help Poppy, so to be standing here right now, telling you all our story, really is confirmation that all of our hopes and dreams are actually coming true.

Poppy is just amazing, she is our beautiful, precious, brave and very courageous little girl who has had to battle so hard in her life, but she has faced it all, head on, just like every other child with epilepsy. I am so proud of her for everything she has had to go through and everything that she has achieved, and I just wondered, would you all like to meet little Miss Poppy Ridley?

So who is poppy?
Poppy is 6 years old and has been on the ketogenic diet for 1 year and 2 days. As a toddler, Poppy was very happy and contented. She was such a funny little girl, the big character of our family. She had so much spirit, she was such good fun. Poppy was a real little poppet who could melt everybody’s heart.

We noticed on a few occasions that Poppy made this wide eyed, funny face and at first, we just thought it was another thing Poppy was doing to make us all laugh, because that was what she was like.

However, over the next few weeks and months, these episodes became worse to the point, we were getting really quite worried about her.

When Poppy was 18 months old she was diagnosed with epilepsy.
Poppy was prescribed various medications, we were adding more and more medications and increasing doses over the next 3 years to the point where she was on 4 combined medications, but the seizures just seemed to be getting worse and worse.
Poppy became very anxious, irritable, miserable, unhappy, aggressive, clumsy, tired and she just could not sit still. It was a nightmare. She was a complete nervous wreck

Poppy started school in September 2012 and her situation just seemed to be getting worse. Poppy had no friends, she seemed to be withdrawing from everything, she was developmentally delayed in all areas and would just stand alone in the playground. Poppy wasn’t learning, she couldn’t even hold a pen and she couldn’t tell me what was happening at school because she did not have the communication skills to do so. It broke our hearts to see our once full of life, adventurous, happy, funny and very sociable little girl turn into such a shadow of herself.

Poppy was having so many seizures at this point and these photographs will be an all too familiar sight for any family of a child with epilepsy and were becoming far too frequent in the Ridley house.
In January 2013, we had hit rock bottom. Poppy’s seizures were getting even worse and I had butterflies in my stomach all day every day leaving her at school. I felt sick every day because I was sending her to a place where children had actually kicked her in the stomach in the playground because she wouldn’t play.
I was so worried that Poppy was having all of these seizures at school and I wasn’t there to hold her hand. It just broke my heart.
I didn’t even see the point in Poppy being at school. She wasn’t learning anything, she had no friends. It was just awful.
At home, Poppy was becoming more and more violent, irritable, aggressive and she would often throw remote controls and juice cups at her poor brother’s head and all of this challenging behaviour was putting a huge pressure on us all as a family.

I had seen a poster about the ketogenic diet at our hospital years ago, but because our doctors had never mentioned it, we just thought it was a treatment that wouldn’t be suitable for Poppy’s type of epilepsy.

In February 2013, both my mum and mother in law watched the Channel 4 programme -the food hospital episode about little Matty, and how the ketogenic diet had helped his epilepsy. They both insisted that I watched it. I kept putting off watching it because I was still convinced it was not a suitable treatment for Poppy.
Eventually, I did and it gave me a little bit of hope that the life we were enduring could possibly change and that there was something out there other than more and more drugs which didn’t seem to be working anyway.

So, at our next neurology appointment, when we were all at the end of our tethers, we asked about the ketogenic diet and were told that the diet was available and we could try it!!!

This is how I found out about The Daisy Garland.
We were given lots of information that day about The Daisy Garland and the ketogenic diet and we were very excited but also terrified. It felt like this was our final hope.
But what if it didn’t work? What then?
I really couldn’t carry on the way we were going. And neither could the rest of our family
I could not believe it when I read Daisy’s story on our little pamphlet and I could not imagine how Sara and David could possibly have coped in those very sad and dark days after Daisy passed away.
I just thought, wow, David and Sara are so brave and amazing for setting up The Daisy Garland charity to help other children with epilepsy, when they had lost their precious little girl.
This is every parent’s worst nightmare and I could not imagine how they could possibly have carried on, let alone do something so amazing and so positive.

David and Sara, you are both truly amazing. You are inspirational and it is an absolute honor to have you both in our lives.

I was a complete nervous wreck in the weeks leading up to the diet starting.
Would Poppy eat the new high fat food?
What on earth was I going to give her to eat?
What if she wanted sweets, chocolates and crisps when she saw her brother and sister eating this?
Would the diet even work for Poppy?
It was our one and only hope and so it had to work, otherwise, what would we do next?

I actually picked up the phone one day and dialled The Daisy Garland number, but put it down before anyone answered.
I was sure they wouldn’t want to hear about my silly worries when they had gone through so much pain themselves.

How wrong could I have been?

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I got in contact with The Daisy Garland via email to ask about fundraising for them.
Sara messaged me back immediately.
She knew all about Poppy and was so full of love and support right from that very first email.
Since then, Sara and I have been in contact almost daily and I really do not know how I would have coped without her.
Sara, you always seemed to know and understand exactly how I was feeling and you always took so much time sending such beautiful, thoughtful emails back to me.

Poppy started the ketogenic diet on the 15th May 2013 and we have been on a real rollercoaster of a journey, but it was like, Sara was sat on that rollercoaster with us, holding our hands and experiencing every emotion with us.
Sara, you have pulled me out of every dark moment I have had over the last year with your love, support and wisdom. I honestly do not know how I would have coped without you. You are a true inspiration.
I feel like I have found the most amazing friend. You are so caring, kind and thoughtful.
You are simply wonderful.

So where are we now?
Poppy is off 3 of her 4 medications. We have had some fantastic periods of seizure freedom and this is something we never ever dreamed possible before the diet.
Our little girl is re-emerging from the fog.
Poppy is doing so well with her reading
She loves drawing spiders, sunshine and flowers and can even write her own name
Poppy can now swim 50 metres
We truly feel we have been given our happy, spirited little girl back
We will never be able to thank The Daisy Garland enough for making this happen for Poppy.
David and Sara, you have both given our family the most amazing gift.

I know I could quite easily have gone down a very dark road in those early days of the diet, but just as we have seen the Garlands set up The Daisy Garland, this has inspired us to stay positive and channel these feelings into helping others.
This has led to a lot of fundraising ideas in the Ridley family.
In September 2013, my husband Chris and his sister Eri ran the Robin Hood half marathon and we raised almost £1800.
In December 2013, I helped another Daisy Garland mum, Laura Rees, from Wales to set up a suppport group on facebook for families on the ketogenic diet and families needing more help and information about the diet.

In March 2014, both Poppy’s school and my husband Chris’s school went purple for the day and raised over £2000.
In February 2014, I decided to do my challenge 26, running 26 miles a week for 26 weeks. We are now on week 13 and I have raised almost £1600 so far.
On June 5th, my husband Chris and his friend Steve will be doing their Tour de Notts. They have organised for the 46 secondary schools in the Nottinghamshire area to have a non-uniform day and Chris and Steve will be cycling 150 miles each to collect the donations from each of the 46 schools.
In July, Chris and Steve will be cycling the Tour de France route. This is a huge challenge, they will be cycling a staggering 2272 miles in 20 days.

The word thank you just doesn’t seem enough for everything David and Sara have done for Poppy and our family, but if we can help by doing all of this fundraising for The Daisy Garland to help them give hope to even more families out there who are currently in the position we were 18 months ago, we will feel we are one step closer to showing our gratitude to David and Sara for everything they have done for us.

I would like to thank you all for listening to Poppy’s story and I wanted to finish with a video of poppy singing her favourite song for you all. This song is called jar of hearts by Christina Perri. During the song you will hear lyrics such as :
‘Who do you think you are, running around leaving scars, living half a life, don’t come back for me, don’t come back at all and I’ve grown too strong to fall back in your arms.’

I am sure you will all find some connection with these words and we feel this is Poppy’s message to epilepsy."

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