Celebrities back The Journal's Bubble Foundation campaign

The Journal's Bubble Foundation campaign is being supported by a host of celebrities

Brian McFadden with Isaac Connelly during his time in the unit
Brian McFadden with Isaac Connelly during his time in the unit

Celebrities are backing The Journal’s campaign to safeguard the future of a charity that supports a pioneering hospital unit.

Earlier this month, we launched our campaign to generate desperately-needed funds for the Bubble Foundation.

More than 20 years ago, it was set up in support of Newcastle’s Bubble Unit, but sadly there has been a sharp reduction in donations to the charity.

As a result the Foundation is at serious risk of closure and if this were to happen the impact would be significant.

Celebrities are now lending their voice to urge kind-hearted people in the North East to dig deep and give a donation.

Irish singing star Brian McFadden visited the Bubble Unit this year and met with brave families on the ward.

He said: “As Patron of the Bubble Foundation UK I would like to thank all The Journal readers for their support.

“I have visited the unit on a number of occasions and have seen first-hand the support the Foundation gives to the patients and their families, as well as funding vital research. We must make sure this continues.”

Since the Bubble Unit opened in 1992, a total of 370 children with immune deficiency problems have had a bone marrow transplant and each year up to 50 life-saving transplants are performed at the unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital, based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

On a yearly basis it is estimated that medics at ward three - officially named the Children’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit - see more than 1,400 children in their clinics.

In the early years, survival rates of youngsters who had undergone a bone marrow transplant was 50% but that has now risen to 90%, and those treated successfully go on to lead a normal life.

Popular television presenter Phillip Schofield was also keen to show his backing for the charity as he highlighted the groundbreaking work that they do day in and day out.

He tweeted: “The incredible staff and children of the Bubble Foundation. Proud to be a supporter.”

The Bubble Foundation funds pioneering research into immune deficiency problems and is currently financing research programmes, in collaboration with Newcastle University, up to the value of £100,000 per year.

Over the last two decades the charity has given more than £1m to research schemes and has helped buy pioneering medical equipment, such as the Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP) machine to treat patients suffering from serious complications of bone marrow transplantation.

TV agony aunt Denise Robertson has been patron of the Bubble Foundation for many years.

She said: “Almost all the money raised has come from the generous people of the North East but due to a fall in income this will be the last year of such funding unless the Foundation can raise more cash.

“Some children, those with rarer diseases, may not survive as a result. The unit will continue its excellent work but parental support and that vital research will be no more.

“The Foundation’s aim is to save 10 out of 10 children and conquer those diseases currently without cure but it needs a gallant knight to ride to the rescue.”

Children can be isolated in the Bubble Unit for many months and, in some cases, years at a time.

Because of their need for a sterile environment new toys have to be purchased for each child. The Bubble Foundation funds all new toys and has also paid for sky television and an iPad for the older children to use during their stay at the hospital.

Gill Johnston, fundraising manager of the Bubble Foundation said: “Everyone involved with the Bubble Unit would like to thank The Journal and its readers for all their help.

“The Bubble Foundation is celebrating 21 years of supporting the Children’s Bone Marrow Transplant Unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital during which time we have cared for over 300 children.

“In the early days six out of 10 babies died but today it is only one out of 10 and that has been possible due to the generosity of the people of the North East who have supported the Foundation and enabled us to fund research into better, less painful treatments for these precious children.

“We look forward to a time when every child that arrives on the unit goes home to lead a normal life.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer