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Henry, 11, takes on Little Britain star for Red Nose Day

PUBLISHED: 12:51 13 March 2011

Henry Sandall (11) who is staging an all-night Comic Relief session so he is tired for a brain scan, playing Wii with his sister Emily (8), watched by mother Julie and grandparents Jean and David.
Photo: Andy Darnell

Henry Sandall (11) who is staging an all-night Comic Relief session so he is tired for a brain scan, playing Wii with his sister Emily (8), watched by mother Julie and grandparents Jean and David. Photo: Andy Darnell

Archant © 2011

WHILE most of us were sleeping one 11-year-old boy was keeping the kind of hours associated with night shift workers and clubbers.

Henry Sandall’s exhausting task was to stay awake all night so medics testing for epilepsy could see if sleep deprivation was triggering fits.

And, to make the effort even more worthwhile, he decided to do it in aid of this year’s Comic Relief campaign – matching Little Britain’s David Walliams for his 24-hour panel show marathon streamed to audiences live via the Internet on Saturday for the same charity.

Following his awake-a-thon on Monday he has already raised around £150 and played more games of Ludo and Monopoly than most people do in a year, his delighted mum said this week.

Parents Julie and Ian Sandall, sister Emily, aged eight, and both sets of grandparents were among those helping him to stay wide-eyed, with a procession of friends popping in and out to refresh the energy at the family’s Bradwell home.

Mrs Sandall, a dinner lady at Homefield First School, said the family were all really proud of Henry who has plenty of his own problems but was still keen to help other “poorly children.”

His decision to ask family and friends for sponsorship helped him to stay upbeat about the somewhat onerous task of staying up all night, and also to focus on it as a charity challenge as well as a medical necessity, she added.

“Henry thought it would be a nice idea to raise money for what he calls poorly children and it put a fun element into something we needed to do anyway. We played on the Wii, made cakes, did jigsaws, played Lego games but, by 2pm, he was really flagging and did have a tiny cat nap.

“We are extremely proud of him. He has his own problems but he still carries on as normal.”

As well as raising money staying awake also had the desired effect on Tuesday when Henry fell fast asleep for doctors at James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston.

Since most of his fits happen at night they were hoping to find a link between sleep and epilepsy but drew a blank, frustrating his family who were hoping for a diagnosis and, therefore, a course of treatment.

Mrs Sandall said Henry was diagnosed with autism when he was three-and-a-half. Although not among the most severely affected his special needs affected family life and routines. His condition makes him say things out-loud unfiltered by the usual social niceties that stop us from saying exactly what we think – sometimes to embarrassing effect.

And his obsession with the familiar and routine mean having the same cup and plate in the same position and a lot of repetitive behaviour, making holidays difficult.

However, Henry makes friends easily, especially with younger children, and enjoys a range of activities including cycling with the local Yarmouth club, which his roofer dad is also involved in.

One in three children with autism also have epilepsy. Henry now faces more tests to find out what is causing his fits.

Red Nose Day is on March 18 raising money to end poverty and injustice in the UK and Africa.

Are you doing anything madcap for Red Nose Day? Contact liz.coates@archant.co.uk or call 01493 847959.

For more information visit www.rednoseday.com

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