Bertie's spirit shines in pandemic challenges
Lock-down, personal loss and suffering have not thwarted the spirits of Norwich girl Bertie Emes-Ellis who simply lives to give. Sandie Shirley reports.
Her smile is wide; her eyes gleam and there is an endless stream of hope and love pouring from her heart.
Although Bertie has special needs and resides in supported living accommodation in Norwich, the challenges throughout her 31 years have been borne with inner strength and resource. It has given rise to joy on the outside and a child-like faith within.
In the last two years, she has put her life on hold to comfort and encourage young and old, including three close friends who have died during or before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her mother Sallie Wright, who launched a children’s charity in Norwich over 20 years ago, takes up the story: “I have watched as Bertie has interacted with people as a beautiful willing vessel of God’s love. She has laid down her life caring for dying friends while feeling the full impact of lock-down for five months last year, unable to see family or interact with outside activities though she still attended on-line church meetings.
“Bertie was born with Down’s Syndrome and though she has learning difficulties she is receptive, communicative and her spirit is not disabled, and we should not limit those like her because of what we see or think.
“Living in a nice bungalow in the community, she is known to be bright and happy: dancing and twirling; singing loud songs; saying loud prayers and spreading faith. She comes alongside the elderly and vulnerable and raises staff morale while sharing simple thoughtful gifts.
“Her compassion has been evident as two housemates lived out their last days. She prayed, cared, and shared her simple faith to bring hope while living out gospel values, truths and principles while using Bible stories and DVDs.
“She was a source of joy and happiness in the Lord to these friends and staff. She whole-heartedly shared her faith throughout and the families and staff who cared for one of her late friends said Bertie made a difference to their lives during this time and throughout the pandemic lockdown,” said Sallie.
“Bertie’s compassion and love have been there since childhood. Growing up in church she would always display kindness and acceptance; there were no judgements or reservations. When the drug addicts and homeless people came and sat in the back pews Bertie readily embraced them with huge hugs which had a big impact on them.
“Bertie (short for Roberta after her maternal grandmother) is a triplet with five siblings including a brother with special needs too. Growing up in a home of love over trial and faith over fear has been an empowering building block for her life despite personal challenges.
“I knew there would be difficulties especially with education needs. But after her birth I read: ‘Angel Unaware.’ The book tells the compelling story of Roy Rogers (known for his entertaining role as the ‘Lone Ranger’ in the fifties) and his wife Dale whose daughter, Robin Elizabeth Rogers was born with serious health issues as well as Down’s Syndrome.
The Christian couple share their timeless message of hope and faith for parents like me who care for special children with various special needs. The book has sold more than 500,000 copies since it was first published in 1953. It has provided enlightenment, wisdom and a growing sensitivity to the challenges, dreams and milestones that have been part of Bertie’s path and for those like her.”
‘Angel Unaware’ by Dale Evans Rogers is available from Amazon.
Pictured above are Sallie and daughter Bertie.