A campaign by The Journal to safeguard the North East’s pioneering research in tackling immune system disorders has been a success.
In October, we launched our Bubble Foundation campaign to raise vital funds for the important charity after it was at serious risk of closure due to a sharp reduction in donations.
Now, thanks to many kind-hearted people in the region, the Foundation is out of the danger zone as a staggering £188,082 has been raised since our campaign began. However, more money is still desperately needed to ensure the long-term future and sustainability of the important charity.
Gill Johnston, fundraising manager for the Bubble Foundation, said: “This time last year we were beginning to realise that if things didn’t improve then there was a danger that the Bubble Foundation would close.
“But thanks to The Journal’s campaign, and all the kind donations, we have been able to save the charity. The campaign gave us the funds we needed to continue with our research project until further funding could be secured, and within the last four months we have managed to achieve that.
“Thank you to The Journal and all it’s readers for their support, it is very much appreciated, but the need continues if we are to carry on saving more lives of precious children.”
The Bubble Unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital, based at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, is one of only two nationally designated services that treats children with little or no immune system.
More than 20 years ago, the Bubble Foundation was set up in support of the service to help fund groundbreaking research into immune deficiencies, along with providing medical equipment, toys and educational aids for the children being treated.
Since the unit opened in 1992, more than 370 youngsters with immune deficiency problems have had a bone marrow transplant and each year up to 50 life-saving transplants are performed in the region, so the need for the Foundation has never been greater.
In just four months alone the charity raised £110,000, which is almost as much as what it generated in 12 months last year. The funds have come from The Journal readers, along with a number of charitable trusts and foundations.
Employees from leading businesses in the North East have also raised significant amounts by choosing the Bubble Foundation as their company’s charity of the year.
Industrial giant Procter and Gamble - which has a number of sites and employs thousands of people across the region - pledged to support the charity for two years.
To date the company has raised £9,800 by a variety of fundraising activities such as raffles, tombola and Christmas fair. Another £10,000 is expected to be generated in the next fiscal year.
Andy Sherwood, project manager at P&G, recently visited the Bubble Unit with his colleague Judith Cordner, so that they could see first-hand the great work that the Foundation does.
Mr Sherwood said: “This was probably one of our best ever years for fundraising, it has been amazing and surpassed our expectations. One of the reasons is that it is always employees who nominate the charities and that generates a lot of support throughout the company.
“While the Bubble Foundation helps children in the North East it also benefits youngsters from across the UK and Ireland. Seeing the work that the Bubble Unit does makes all the fundraising worthwhile as it is important that research into immune system disorders continues. We hope to raise another £10,000 for the Foundation.”
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 relies entirely on donations from generous people as it helps look out for the welfare of the babies, children and their families. Most importantly, the Foundation also helps to fund many research projects in the North East.
A host of celebrities have backed the Bubble Foundation campaign, including patron of the charity, Irish singing star Brian McFadden, who organised a celebrity golf day to raise funds. The Journal’s Fit Factor finalists are also doing this year’s Great North Run in support of the Foundation.
Teenager Harry Leahy would not be here today if it wasn’t for the outstanding work of the Bubble Unit and its charity.
Last year, the 15-year-old was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) and spent just under two months at the Great North Children’s Hospital’s unit.
Harry, from Cardiff, Wales, and his parents travelled 322 miles to Newcastle for a life-saving bone marrow transplant earlier this year, when a female transatlantic donor from America was found to be a perfect match.
The youngster has just spent his first few days back at home and will regularly travel to Newcastle for check-ups as medics in the region continue his care.
Before he left the unit, Harry said: “I have been alright since the transplant. The staff at the unit are excellent and I will miss them, but I can’t wait to see all my family, especially my sisters.
“When I get back to Wales I’m going to raise awareness of the Bubble Foundation and the important work that it does.”
For almost eight weeks Harry had to be in an isolation unit to prevent him from getting an infection. His mum Ashley, 49, a company director, has been with him every step of the way.
The mother-of-five said: “Harry would not be here today if it wasn’t for the research that has been done into immune system problems. We are extremely grateful to all the staff at the unit and what the Bubble Foundation does.”
We're urging as many people as possible to support the Bubble Foundation.
Whether it be a sponsored bike ride or fundraising night, we’re calling on our readers to dig deep and help raise vital funds for the charity.
To donate, make a cheque payable to Bubble Foundation UK and send it to: Ward 3, Great North Children’s Hospital, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle, NE1 4LP.
For more information about the charity visit:
Website: www.bubblefoundation.org.uk and link in to their justgiving page
If your doing a fundraising event for the Bubble Foundation, or have used the unit email our Health Reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org