Great Britain

Dad's plea for school that makes disabled twins' faces light-up

A COUPLE feel it is their turn to help a charity which has provided invaluable support to them and their disabled children.

Paul and Claire Watson's twins Emily and Christopher were born three-and-a-half months premature in 2010.

The Northern Echo:

Emily, three and a half month premature

They had a rough road through special care and, now nine, they have severe cerebral palsy and complex health conditions.

The Northern Echo:

Christopher in hospital as a baby

Both attend Percy Hedley School in North Tyneside, which caters for children with complex disabilities.

Mr Watson, 43, said: "Since attending they have come on amazingly.

"Because of the intensive therapy they get, Christopher can now talk – saying odd words is something even two or three years ago we never would have imagined.

"Christopher has a tracheostomy and needs a specially trained person to monitor him constantly, they have saved his life on a number of occasions.

"You can see on the faces of staff the dedication they have when going to work and that they love the children.

"When Emily and Christopher arrive at school their faces light up – you can see how excited they are to be at school.

"The difference Percy Hedley has made to our family has been massive, it is absolutely brilliant."

The Northern Echo:

Family time for the Watsons

The couple, from Greenside, near Gateshead, support the fundraising efforts of the Percy Hedley Foundation year-round.

But Mr Watson said the Foundation – which provides specialist and personalised care and education support to disabled people and their families– has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The civil servant was planning to join other parents at a sponsored Total Warrior challenge in June– which is now off until 2021– and the Great North Swim– which organisers are considering postponing.

Many other spring and summer fundraising activities have been cancelled because of Covid-19 restrictions.

Mr Watson, who is on the Parent Teacher Association, said: "That is all valuable funding lost to the Foundation.

"It will be the same for many charities and organisations, this is such an unprecedented situation we need to manage what is happening now and what happens when we come out of the other side.

"We need to make sure that what my children and hundreds of other children and families rely on is still there.

"The school places are funded by 15 different local authorities, with pupils attending from all over the North, but there is so much more that need fundraising for."

The Northern Echo:

Kangaroo cuddles for the twins from parents Paul and Claire Watson

He has set himself a 30-day workout challenge and can be sponsored online at gofundme.com/f/30-day-challenge-for-percy-hedley

He said: "Please think about the Foundation and charities in general, 20 to 30 per cent aren't expected to make it through because of the lack of fundraising."

The Percy Hedley Foundation has issued its own urgent appeal.

A spokesperson said: "In these unprecedented times we need your help more than ever as we face a huge shortfall in fundraising income.

"Any support you can give will make a huge difference to the disabled people we care for, now and in the future."

Donate to the charity at justgiving.com/campaign/Percy-Hedley-Urgent-Appeal

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