Tucking in: Samuel Milner (sitting) hands out gluten-free biscuits to Emmi Plunkett and Lee Hollis-Whitby. Photo: MFCP11AF05307.
Tucking in: Samuel Milner (sitting) hands out gluten-free biscuits to Emmi Plunkett and Lee Hollis-Whitby. Photo: MFCP11AF05307.
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SNACK time is not normally much fun for coeliac sufferer Samuel Milner - but this week it has been different.

The three-year-old has been encouraging classmates at Elm Pre-school to enjoy the same treats he has in a bid to raise awareness of the disease which means he has to watch what he eats.

People with Coeliac Disease must avoid foods containing wheat or gluten and so as part of National Coeliac Awareness Week Samuel has been serving his school friends gluten-free snacks.

Samuel’s mum Michelle Milner, aunt Clair-Marie Crisford and grandmother Carol Brock all suffer from the food intolerance.

And Carol, who looks after Samuel while his mum is at work, only found out she had the disease after her grandson was diagnosed. She had previously been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome at the age of 18.

Carol said: “We first noticed something was wrong when we started to wean him. Samuel would have toast as finger food, but then get spots around his mouth, his belly would blow up and he would be miserable.”

After a visit to the doctor, wheat and gluten were cut out of Samuel’s diet and he was soon back to normal.

As time has passed, his intolerance to gluten seems to have increased and he is now very hypersensitive to it.

“We know if there’s been a mistake at school because he will come home ill and be off for a week or more. He gets terrible diarrhoea and stomach cramps.

“Our main problem was that the children would wash their hands before they ate but not afterwards. Samuel only had to touch the crumbs and put his fingers in his mouth, as children do, then he was ill.

“He used to have to eat his snack on a separate table, but the school have been brilliant. The children are very good and understand about Samuel’s condition. He can now sit with them and they’re very careful not to make a mess.”

So this week Samuel was dishing out gluten-free biscuits, poppadams and bread to his school friends, to give them a chance to sample his snacks during the usual snack time.

One of the family’s most difficult jobs is food shopping and Carol is on a mission to educate the large supermarkets about coeliac disease.

She said gluten-free products will often only be stocked for a short time because there is not the big demand for them, which can make things hard to get.

Carol recently complained to Morrison’s because they had no gluten-free frozen food, such as sausages, and received a letter saying they would monitor the situation and review it in six months time.