The sister of Wythenshawe soldier Lee Ellis who was killed in Iraq has told how her poetry and campaigning work to improve conditions for soldiers has kept her brother’s memory alive.
Karla Ellis is a founder member of the Bereaved Siblings Support Group, part of the armed forces support charity SSAFA and contributed part of her poetry to an exhibition at the charity’s London HQ at the weekend.
Private Ellis died aged 23 in Iraq in February 2006 after a bomb exploded underneath his Army vehicle.
As well as performing and campaigning for change around the country she inspired a documentary by Minnow Films – The Legacy Of Iraq, raising awareness of the plight of families after the death of a loved one in conflict.
She said: “Without all these things, I don’t know how else I would have coped with the death of my beautiful baby brother. You either grow or shrink. I am now the Director of a Performing Arts Academy and studying creative writing, media and English with the hope to work with future creatives along with developing my own knowledge and writing skills.
“To me, writing is cathartic, it’s healing and it gave me a way to make sense of things after my whole belief system had been torn to pieces. My love for creative writing stems from a subconscious knowledge of poetry, my love of hip hop and of course, my love for my brother. The easiest way for me to imitate that was to write poetry and spoken word. It gave me a sense of unity, worth and belonging.
“It has been a way for me to keep my brother with me always – and not to feel uncomfortable about the elephant in the room.”