A YOUNG girl who spends many months of the year in hospital was treated to the “best weekend with her family” thanks to the “absolutely amazing” efforts of an independent party business.

Iyla Stark has a number of life-long conditions, some of which require repeated bouts of surgery.

The six-year-old was forced to shield throughout the pandemic due to her being high risk.

However, along with her younger brother Oakley, she was treated to a fun-filled weekend with their family at their Bournemouth home.

This was thanks to Paul Walton, founder of Any Occasion Inflatable Hire, who provided a bouncy castle and other goodies from local companies completely free of charge after Iyla was named the winner of the business’s lockdown hero competition on social media last month.

Mum Shannon Ross told the Daily Echo: “I explained a little bit about Iyla and felt she deserved it. She had her most recent surgery on February 10 but she got a severe infection which resulted in her being back in hospital and her lung collapsed, so she was on a ventilator.

“There is not really any slow down of it. She has life-long conditions, so it feels like we live in hospitals.

“Paul was just amazing from the start. He went completely out his way and Iyla had the best weekend with her family.

“I just want to give him credit for what he has done for us because he has been absolutely amazing.”

Bournemouth Echo: Iyla Stark spends many months of the year in hospital due to her life-changing conditions

Iyla’s conditions include Klippel-Feil syndrome, which is a disorder that cause bones to fuse and affects her organs, and she is tube fed.

Her ribs are all fused on her right side, she has sprengel shoulder and a number of complex spinal chord abnormalities.

She has vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) rods from top of her spine to the base of her spine, which have to be lengthened by surgeons every six months.

Bournemouth Echo: X-ray of Iyla's VEPTR rodsX-ray of Iyla's VEPTR rods


“Iyla’s mental health has suffered through all she has gone through and she has got to the age now where she has just had enough,” Miss Ross.

“We go through hell and back but for her to just have one weekend of no stress and no worries and us not being in hospital, means everything to her.

“She was absolutely gutted when the bouncy castle had to come down but Paul then said we will be able to have it for a couple of days for free in the summer.

“She has had such a tough six years and it isn’t going to slow down any time soon. She has more surgeries coming up.

"It was just so nice that somebody has done something so lovely for us. We have never had an experience like this before where we are made to all feel appreciated.”

Alongside the work of Mr Walton’s company, contributions were provided by Vivid Tints & Wraps, Vivid Unique, Rebecca The Fairy Cake Mother, CM Cleaning, Youngs Barbers, Debbie Hardiman, WARES The Window Cleaner, Maison Vogue and Gifts for all occasions.

Bournemouth Echo: Some of the gifts donated to Iyla and her family

The family received all sorts of gifts, including personalised cups, chocolates and T-shirts, as well as vouchers for haircuts, house cleaning services and other treats.


Mr Walton, who founded his business in March last year, said he wanted to give something back after a busy first summer in the industry.

“I set up the lockdown hero competition and I was going to give a bouncy castle away for a day,” he said.

“We chose Iyla and we decided that a bouncy castle on its own just wasn’t enough.

“I got hold of a few other small independent businesses and they all gave stuff for the family.

“The cost of what we all gave and what we got out of it wasn’t important, it was just to give a little kid a special day.

Bournemouth Echo: Iyla and Oakley Stark enjoying their weekend on the bouncy castle

“Seeing how they reacted gave me and the other companies a warm feeling.

“I feel really privileged to be able to give back and this was an opportunity to do that by putting joy on someone else’s face.

“You could be paid millions of pounds and I still wouldn’t get the joy I got from giving her this experience.”