Noah’s Ark has proudly supported Eli and her parents, Michael and Sharon, for the past 12 years. As Father’s Day approaches, here’s Michael’s story of being the father of a seriously unwell child and the impact she has on his life.

A Father’s Message, by Michael Artemis

“Father’s Day presents an opportunity to recognise the appreciation and impact a loving father has on the family he holds so dear. It provides fathers with a moment to reflect on the joys and love that come by watching your children grow.

We all have a personal story, this one is mine. I’d like to share it with fathers (the often forgotten parent) and anyone who’d like to read about my daughter Elisavet (Eli) who was named after my cherished grandmother.

Eli was born with profound multiple learning difficulties – her early life was so challenging. She failed to thrive and instinctively but tenuously fought to hold onto life. Her mother, my darling wife and I, were frequently engulfed by tears, emotions and thoughts of despair and helplessness as we watched her struggles and pain. Those early infant days and years were the low points in her life and ours.

Thanks to the incredible dedication and support of so many strangers, whose professional and personal calling it is to serve children, we weathered the critical early years with a slow and growing admiration for our delightful daughter’s tenacity.

Although she couldn’t mouth words, in small steps her personality began to form. We saw ever increasing smiles and responsiveness to the care and life-sustaining routines she undergoes including being peg fed and moved by others – Eli lacks many of the independent mobility skills we sometimes take for granted.

As Eli enters her teenage phase she has started to assert herself, demanding ever more affection, attentiveness and loving – as with any typical teenager. She knows that her parents, and the wonderful carers who have from time-to-time entered her life, are her willing servants.

Others tell us – and who are we to disagree? – that she is loving and responsive to kindness and has an infectious personality which draws people to her. As I said, who are we to disagree?!

The emotional challenge dissipates but the financial burden relentlessly increases. Sometimes things are tight – one wonders constantly of the future and if the interminable adaptations to our living conditions will ever be finished and paid for.

But somehow the emotional and spiritual rewards of being Eli’s father brings peace, fulfilment and ever-increasing love that comes from a reservoir deep within my being that initially one doesn’t know exists, much less realise that it grows ever greater each day that I am in her company.

Recently, thanks to the generosity of friends, my darling wife took her first holiday in 13 years. In those 10 days, I provided exclusive personal care for my daughter and, against all odds, I grew to love her more with each day. How is this possible?

Simply because I am my child’s father which is the greatest job any father will ever have.”

To help more parents like Michael and Sharon create more precious memories, please donate HERE or text NACH10 £10 to 70070 to donate £10.