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World wide best wishes for Ryan

PUBLISHED: 15:05 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:58 03 July 2010

AN organisation that aims to brighten the lives of seriously ill youngsters by giving them a web page and encouraging wellwishers to send cards and gifts is looking to garner support from the Great Yarmouth area.

AN organisation that aims to brighten the lives of seriously ill youngsters by giving them a web page and encouraging wellwishers to send cards and gifts is looking to garner support from the Great Yarmouth area.

Ryan Hughes, of Ormesby St Michael, is among those with a chronic condition who have benefited from Post Pals. Frequent messages and treats help to lift his spirits espec-ially when his health deteriorates.

For Ryan, having a long-term lung disease is something that has to fit into his life, rather than the other way round. And he will become the envy of his friends when on Monday - his 16th birthday - he has his first driving lesson.

Ryan already has his sights set on a new Fiesta, while schoolfriends not eligible to drive under mobility rules must wait another year before they can get behind the wheel.

For his mum Gina, it is another step towards independence for her son, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of four weeks.

Since then, he has needed daily physiotherapy and drugs to keep him alive. And, although he looks the picture of health beaming out of his school photo, he has had a difficult year, with frequent health setbacks and a school attendance record with many more crosses than ticks.

Having missed five weeks out of seven last term, the Flegg High School, Martham, pupil is keen to catch up and secure good enough grades to take him to East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston, in September to study graphics and computer gaming.

Mrs Hughes said caring for her son had become emotionally more challenging as he had grown older and more aware of the severity of his condition. On a day-to-day basis, physical “patting” had given way to a “flutter” technique and a mask that made patients breathe against a force.

In September, Ryan was admitted to hospital for the first time in two years with a bout of flu that knocked him unconscious for a week. Having recovered, he became ill again quite quickly, an almost ever-present cough proving stubbornly difficult to shift, affecting his appetite and making him more dependent on night feeds through a tube.

Through all this, Mrs Hughes said, Post Pals had helped with encourage-ment and kind words. A spot as a “featured pal” had helped to trigger extra cards and good wishes from all over the world, sometimes from whole classes of children thousands of miles away.

There was recognition, too, for seven-year-old sister Jasmin, who also receives treats. Post Pals are keen to acknowledge the impact on the whole family of living with someone with a lifelong, serious condition; one sub-scriber sent Legoland tickets so Ryan's family could all have a fun day out.

This year, as well as its Elf Christmas scheme, Post Pals wants to help brighten a bleak January with its Box of Smiles campaign, which asks people to put together a box of items such as small gifts picked up in the sales, funny poems, teddies and anything to bring cheer. Contact with children is controlled, and all post is sent to a safe address before being passed on.

Post Pals is an award-winning scheme that has TV presenter Fearne Cotton as its patron. To find out more visit www.postpals.co.uk

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