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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Ellie Muir

Jim Carter shares touching message to young Downton Abbey fan dealing with rare skin condition

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Downton Abbey star Jim Carter has shared a heartfelt message to a young fan of the hit period drama series, after she was interviewed on This Morning about dealing with a rare skin condition.

Appearing on Tuesday’s (30 May) instalment of the beleagured ITV breakfast show, the actor spoke to 14-year-old Isla Grist, who lives with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a rare skin-blistering condition that causes the skin to tear and blister at the slightest touch.

Alison Hammond asked the teenager what her favourite TV shows were for distracting herself from the pain. When Isla told Hammond and her co-host Dermot O’Leary that she liked Downton Abbey, they surprised her with a personalised video.

Debuting in 2010, Downton Abbey was created and co-written by English novelist and Conservative peer Julian Fellowes. It was set on the fictional Yorkshire estate of Downton Abbey, and followed the lives of the arisocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants through historic moments such as the sinking of the Titanic and the First World War.

Carter starred as head butler Carson alongside an ensemble cast that included Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith and Dan Stevens. It ran for six seasons, including five Christmas specials, plus two feature films, released in 2019 and 2022.

“Isla, I hear that you cope with your condition with great patience and courage and well done you is what I say,” Carter said in his video message, before passing on his best wishes from the Downton Abbey cast and crew – both from “the Lord and Lady upstairs” and, “more importantly, the staff downstairs”.

Grist’s condition, sometimes known as “butterfly skin” was described by her father on the show as “brutal, relentless and horrible” as the young girl suffers from painful blisters and sores on her skin, which means she has to get her protective wound dressing changed three times a week.

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) refers to the name of a group of rare skin disorders that cause the skin to be very fragile, and any friction or trauma to the skin can lead to severe discomfort and blisters.

Scottish former football player Graeme Souness also appeared on the show, as he will be participating in a cross-channel relay swim next month, alongside Isla’s father, to fundraise for research charity DEBRA.

Souness added in the show that Grist is extremely brave, having already had 45 operations in the 14 years of her life. Grist told the ITV programme that she tries to “distract” herself from the pain by doing things she enjoys, like watching Downtown Abbey.

At present, there is no cure for EB, so treatment is designed around relieving symptoms and preventing further complications, such as infection.

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