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Mum hears "I love you" for the first time

Elke Wisbey, six, with mum Glynnis and brother Galahad, eight, trying out her Smartbox. Picture:Matthew Reading
Elke Wisbey, six, with mum Glynnis and brother Galahad, eight, trying out her Smartbox. Picture:Matthew Reading

It was a moment mum Glynnis Wisbey had been waiting years for.

Her six-year-old daughter Elke, who has suffered from brain damage since birth, was finally able to tell her "I love you".

And then she told her again, and again, and again.

Elke’s words of love were made possible partly thanks to the generosity of Kent Messenger readers.

The Kent Messenger launched an appeal in the summer to help buy Elke, who lives in Bearsted, a Smartbox, which tracks her eye movements and helps her communicate with others.

The fund exceeded the family’s target of £17,500.

The specialist equipment has now arrived from Sweden and the family, which includes dad Matt and brother Galahad are getting used to using it, although Elke has mastered it more quickly than anyone.

Mrs Wisbey said: “I was playing on it with her the other day and she kept eye pointing to all the bits which said “I love you”. I thought it was stuck and then I realised what she was saying. It was quite emotional.

“It is mind blowing really; we have gone from somebody not being able to communicate to this.”

The Smartbox includes a screen which contains a number of icons. It works by detecting which part of the screen Elke’s pupils are focusing on, using tiny lasers at the bottom. When she looks at an icon for two seconds, it then selects it for her, in a similar way to a touch screen.


A voice then says what the image is. The family has selected the voice of “Lucy” which Mrs Wisbey describes as “Radio 2 with a touch of the dark side.”

The story of the bubbly youngster, who has had problems since birth and will never be able to walk or speak for herself, inspired huge acts of generosity from our readers, all wanting to help buy the equipment, including a sponsored walk in Mote Park, supported by family, friends and Maidstone Mencap; and donations from a variety of sources, including the Mall Chequers, Maidstone; The Body Shop At Home and All Wellan Good.

Any leftover money will go to extra equipment to make the box as portable as possible.

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