South East Wales

Maesteg toddler suffers 'awful bullying' over rare condition

21-month-old Ollie and mum Amy Poole
Image caption Amy Poole says Olllie has been targeted by abuse from strangers

The mother of a toddler born with a rare facial condition has spoken of the "awful" bullying he has suffered.

Ollie was born at Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales in February 2014 with encephalocele, a condition which caused a golf-ball sized mass to develop on his nose.

His mother, Amy Poole, 22, of Maesteg, Bridgend county, said the 21-month-old has endured some "pathetic" abuse.

But she told the BBC he is "the same" as any other child.

"Hopefully he will grow and he will be happy. Hopefully he doesn't get bullied, but then that's the world we live in these days - I'll be there," she said.

'Terrified'

Ms Poole said she was "terrified" when she was told at the 20-week stage of her pregnancy that Ollie had a growth on his face but she was relieved it was not cancerous.

Image caption The mass on Ollie's nose was removed last year
Image caption Amy Poole was 'terrified' when she was told of the mass on Ollie's nose after a 20-week scan

Encephalocele is a defect in the embryo's neural tube during foetal development, which causes protrusions through openings in the skull.

In Ollie's case, a sac of brain fluid and membrane developed after his nasal bones failed to fuse together during the pregnancy.

In November 2014, he had surgery to remove the mass at a specialist centre in Birmingham, with other operations helping to improve his breathing.

'It's crazy'

Ms Poole said she "wouldn't change" Ollie in any way, adding: "He's my baby."

However, she has been left furious by some "absolutely awful" looks, comments and laughter people have directed towards him on the street and online.

"It's crazy, I would never, ever dream of saying anything about anyone else's child," she said.

"I feel like I'm boiling, but I stay calm. I don't actually act on anything. I take the higher ground."

Asked what advice she would offer to any new parents in her position, Ms Poole said: "I'd tell them not to worry.

"It will be fine in the end. The surgeons, they do fabulous jobs. Personally, Ollie is Ollie - I wouldn't change him even when he had the mass.

"It's just getting over the fact of the bullies, of the people who will say things and just thinking you're better."

The next step for Ollie will be reconstructive surgery and dental work to help reposition his teeth.