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Centre to change children’s lives

THE mother of a boy who suffers from a severe form of asthma has given her backing to a Journal-backed appeal to raise funds for a new childhood respiratory unit in the North East.

John Robson, Beverley Robson, Asthma sufferer
John Robson, Beverley Robson, Asthma sufferer

THE mother of a boy who suffers from a severe form of asthma has given her backing to a Journal-backed appeal to raise funds for a new childhood respiratory unit in the North East.

Beverley Robson says her 10-year-old son John will be one of many children to benefit from the Puffin Appeal, which is aiming to raise £2m for a department at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary.

John suffers from severe chronic allergic asthma, meaning he has a number of allergies which seriously affect his breathing.

Almost anything can send him into a sharp downward spiral, making him feel as if someone were standing on his chest, and leaving him lethargic.

He takes eight tablets a day, has four inhalers and needs a monthly injection of a medicine which attaches to the allergens to stop them multiplying in his lungs.

But given that he is allergic to so many things, his health is constantly fluctuating.

"It’s like living on a time bomb with him," said Mrs Robson, a childminder.

"His lung function is badly affected. It’s really worrying because he just goes downhill so quick and, like any child with asthma, you worry about the worst happening."

A pupil at St Joseph’s Middle School in Hexham, John lives with his mum and 13-year-old sister Arrianne in Orchard Avenue, Acomb, near Hexham.

He attends school in the mornings and is home-tutored in the afternoons, though Mrs Robson hopes to see him going to school full-time next year.

"The last year has been absolutely horrendous," she said. "We have been in the clinic weekly. Part of the problem is that you can’t pin it down – it is triggered by animals, trees, dust, a lot of different things.

"I never ever think that we are not going to the hospital. It’s part of life now.

"The Puffin Appeal and the new department will benefit John so much. To have everyone under one roof, it’s going to be out of this world. It is going to benefit so many people and so many parents as well."

She said it was important to her that John lead as normal a life as possible. "He likes doing what all young boys do – playing football, riding his bike, playing on the trampoline. I let him do what he wants to do. The best thing is to be positive. We fit the medication in around John’s life, not the other way round."

Arrianne has been leading a fundraising effort for the Puffin Appeal at the school, organising a non-uniform day at St Joseph’s in the past few weeks.

"She has been keen to help," Mrs Robson said. "Anything that can help the appeal, help build the research centre and bring all the specialists together, is a good thing."

How you can give to the appeal

THE Puffin Appeal is aiming to raise funds for a world-class childhood respiratory unit in Newcastle.

It has been set up in the hope of generating £2m to improve the lives of children with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, severe pneumonia and asthma.

A new building is currently under construction on the Royal Victoria Infirmary site in Newcastle and space has been set aside for the respiratory unit. To donate to the Puffin Appeal, visit or write to the Puffin Appeal, No. 7 Beaufront Castle, Hexham, Northumberland, NE46 4LT.



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