FOR ANY four-year-old, the prospect of starting at primary school is rather daunting.
But for Esmay Hurst, the challenge is set to be even greater than it is for most children.
Esmay suffers from vascular facial malformation, which means that she has a lump on the side of her face.
This lump can swell on bad days, disfiguring her face.
But in spite of all this, Esmay is looking forward to starting school this month, as she enters reception year at The Flying Bull Academy. Portsmouth, on September 11.
Mother Jade Hurst says that the first few years of Esmay’s life have been incredibly difficult.
She said: ‘Esmay was diagnosed with her condition about a year after she was born.
‘If she falls over or something like that, and the lump bursts, we only have a few hours to get to QA and then over to Great Ormond Street Hospital.’
Mrs Hurst, of Derby Road, North End, said that the thought of her daughter having to go to Great Ormond Street filled her with dread.
‘The first time you hear those three words, your blood just runs cold’ she said: ‘You just can’t imagine that it would be your child that would need facilities like that.
‘Since Esmay’s diagnosis, we have been to Great Ormond Street three or four times. It is true when people say that it is a lovely place, but you never really want to find yourself there.
‘Esmay has had MRI scans and multiple blood tests and has been as good as gold throughout. There are times when I have cried, but she never seems to stop smiling.’
As preparation for when Esmay starts primary school, Jade has helped the school to create posters so that staff know what to do in the event of an emergency.
But she says that the key part is to make sure other parents are aware of what’s going on.
She said: ‘Esmay doesn’t seem too concerned about her classmates, but as Mum, it is my job to worry about these things.
‘For me, I think that the most important thing is speaking to the other parents, and making sure they know about Esmay’s illness, why it makes her different, and why she won’t let that slow her down.
‘I just want to make sure that people are able to see past the illness – she might look rough some days but she is just a normal five-year-old girl, and wants to be treated as such.’
When Esmay starts life at The Flying Bull Academy, she won’t be there on her own.
Her two older sisters, Ellie Louise and Chloe also attend the school, and will be going into Year Two and Year Five respectively.
Esmay said: ‘I am really excited for school. My sisters are going to look after me, and I can see them at lunchtime – and that’s good.
‘When I first go to school I think I might be nervous because I am quite little, but I’m still excited.’
Her mother Jade added: ‘I think that having her two sisters around is a massive confidence boost for her.
‘She knows that she won’t be alone because they will look out for her, and it means she is also familiar with the school because she has been there plenty of times before.
‘We’re all nervous for her, but we know that she’ll do well, and that she’ll never stop smiling.’