THE family of Lucy Ellis, a schoolgirl and talented gymnast who died of sepsis earlier this year, took to the streets of Newport yesterday (September 13), which was World Sepsis Day, to raise awareness about the illness.

Lucy, 16, died at the Royal Gwent Hospital on May 15, a few days after falling ill.

Her father, Neil, said the family couldn't understand how the illness took Lucy's life so quickly.

The main reason for their street campaign, he said, was to show people how prevalent sepsis was, and how it could affect everybody.

"It can strike anyone, not just the frail or the young," Mr Ellis said.

"Lucy represented Wales at gymnastics. She was an athlete. We went to the gym every day and she’d come home and do a 5km run. She was the fittest person I’ve ever known. If it can take her life, it can take anyone’s."

Lucy's family handed out leaflets to shoppers on Commercial Street, with information about spotting the symptoms – which can be very similar to many other illnesses – as well as the story of Lucy's life.

South Wales Argus:

Information provided to the family by the Global Sepsis Alliance, which promotes World Sepsis Day each September 13, revealed how 40 people in the UK die of sepsis every hour.

Mr Ellis said people had been "stunned" to hear the facts.

"A lot of people don’t know that sepsis can be contracted by anyone," he said.

"People have come up and said they were unlikely to get sepsis.

"I would have said the same about my daughter four months ago.

"Hopefully we’ll be saving someone’s life with the early signs and recognition."

Raising awareness about the illness is one of the goals of the Lucy Ellis Foundation, set up by Lucy's family in her memory.

They are also lobbying the Welsh government for a specialist blood oxygenation machine, called and ECMO, which can save the lives of patients with sepsis, to be made permanently available in Wales.

Currently, the nearest machines in the UK are in Leicester and London.

Lucy died while waiting for an ECMO machine to be brought to Newport from London.

To find out more about sepsis and the work of the Lucy Ellis Foundation, visit