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Bedlington gets behind Nathan’s Hadrian’s Wall challenge

A ten year old boy from Bedlington, who was diagnosed with a rare liver disease in October, has pledged to travel the distance of Hadrian’s Wall in 30 days to raise funds for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation (CLDF) and has already smashed his £2000 fundraising target.

Nathan Air is an active, happy boy who enjoys football and playing on his Xbox. Last October, however, his parents Sarah and Paul, noticed that the whites of his eyes had a yellow tinge and took him to his GP who did a blood test.

“Shortly afterwards, we received a call asking us to take Nathan to our nearest A&E, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington where, after several tests, he was diagnosed with jaundice,” says Sarah. “The team at Cramlington contacted Leeds Children’s hospital, who specialise in liver conditions. And after further tests and a scan on Nathan’s liver, we were asked to go to Leeds for a few days so that a liver biopsy could be carried out. It was at this point that Nathan was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis – something we had never heard of until then.”

Nathan has had to spend time in hospital in Cramlington and Leeds.

While the diagnosis was a shock to his parents, Nathan took it all in his stride.

“We are very proud of how Nathan has handled this news and taken on the challenges he’s had to face,” says Paul. “He has been given medication to manage his condition and has been slowly recovering at home. We attend Cramlington hospital every week for blood tests to monitor his progress and we also have monthly reviews with the team at Leeds. The NHS staff have been amazing and are clearly very specialised with their knowledge and care. Nathan’s recovery is going well so far, and he still has time to make us all laugh along the way”.

It was during his recovery at home that Nathan came up with the idea of a fundraising challenge for Children’s Liver Disease Foundation.

Nathan clocking up the miles with his sister Layla.

“CLDF have helped us to understand what autoimmune hepatitis was through their useful informative booklets and website,” explains Sarah. “Nathan now wants to raise money to allow them to continue the great work they do supporting families across the UK.”

Nathan set himself the challenge of travelling the distance of Hadrian’s Wall (90 miles) either by walking, cycling, running or even roly polying! He began on January 11 and aims to complete it within 30 days. Once people became aware of the challenge, several of his team-mates from Bedlington FC U11 Dragons and fellow pupils from Meadowdale Academy decided to join in to support him.

Several of Nathan’s team mates at Bedlington FC U11 Dragons are joining in with his challenge.

“This was such a lovely gesture – Nathan is very lucky to have such amazing friends around him. These boys are completely smashing this challenge!” says Sarah.

The local community has been equally enthusiastic with fundraising too. The challenge is not yet at the half-way mark and over £2200 has already been raised.

“The whole thing has exceeded our expectations, we are blown away by everyone’s kindness,” says Sarah. “I would like to thank each and every person who has sponsored Nathan and his friends”.

Alison Taylor, Chief Executive of Children’s Liver Disease Foundation, added: “CLDF is the only UK charity dedicated to fighting all childhood liver diseases. We provide young people and their families with information, emotional support and act as a voice for everyone affected. As with many charities, the pandemic has hit our fundraising hard, which makes Nathan’s amazing fundraising challenge all the more valuable to us. It’s wonderful that he has inspired so many people both to join in and support him and we hope that all those taking part thoroughly enjoy it.”

For updates on Nathan and his friends’ progress and to support the challenge go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nathanair.

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