When mum Mandy Curry lost her two-year-old son to a devastating lung condition, she became determined to help other parents in her position. Health reporter Jane Picken finds out about the launch of her new charity.
Little Sol Curry was just weeks away from his third birthday when a catalogue of lung problems, including pulmonary hypertension, which caused heart troubles, took his tiny life.
Born with Down's syndrome, Sol had been whisked to the Royal Victoria Infirmary and the Freeman straight after birth, as doctors discovered he had atrial septal defect, a condition which stops the blood from flowing correctly around the lungs, as well as pulmonary hypertension.
But just months after returning from a fun-packed holiday to Disneyland Paris, Sol contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), an infection which leads to chronic respiratory problems, and his lungs slowly failed.
He died on December 1, 2005, and his family immediately started to raise funds for the Freeman. And last year Mandy decided to set up the Sol Curry Charitable Trust charity. "Sol touched so many people in many ways during his short life and those involved with him learned so much about the difficulties associated with Down's syndrome and the medical conditions he had," said Mandy, 39, from Whickham, Gateshead.
"I thought there was such a lot I could do for children like Sol. Before I had Sol I had no idea of the traumas parents with poorly children have to go through. Now I want to help parents in the same situation I was.
"All things considered, Sol led a very full and active life and had many wonderful experiences. Through Sol's Trust he will be remembered and other children can have the same opportunities with our support."
The cash raised through the Sol Curry Charitable Trust will also go towards medical research, as well as helping families with children who have long-term illnesses and learning difficulties.
Sol's Trust was officially launched on May 12 in Saltwell Park, Gateshead, with a spectacular balloon launch, a visit from Mayor of Gateshead Coun Maureen Goldsworthy and a dog display by Northumbria Police. Visitors to the launch were also treated to face-painting and prizes.
The aim of the trust is to help children under 16 who have learning difficulties, Down's syndrome or who require long-term or frequent hospital in-patient care, and also their relatives and carers.
"This would be through the provision of financial assistance, support, education and practical advice," said Mandy. "We also want to advance education about pulmonary hypertension, in particular through funding for research."
Already the charity has raised around £9,000 with fundraising at Sol's nursery Rose Villa, the Great North Run, St Nicholas' Church in Dunston. Some of the money has gone towards Gibside School in Whickham, which is for children with learning difficulties.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0784 055 5446.
Before I had Sol I had no idea of the traumas parents with poorly children have to go through. Now I want to help parents in the same situation as I was