Parents of boy born with cleft lip raise £8,000 to help other families

With the cheque are, from left, Jennifer Robson, Peter Hodgkinson, Dorothy Duncan and Andy Mclean with Tom. Picture by Steve Brock Photography
With the cheque are, from left, Jennifer Robson, Peter Hodgkinson, Dorothy Duncan and Andy Mclean with Tom. Picture by Steve Brock Photography

A mum and dad whose son underwent surgery when he was just 16-weeks-old have raised £8,000 for the little-known charitable fund that works with other families in the same situation.

Jennifer Robson and Andy McLean’s son, Tom McLean, was born with a cleft lip, which has been repaired by the Newcastle team.

Now the South Shields family have raised money for the Cleft Lip and Palate Fund, which supports the Northern and Yorkshire palate service based at the RVI in Newcastle.

Jennifer said: “It is quite incredible what can be done for cleft lips today and the team at the RVI was absolutely fantastic.

“As soon as Tom’s cleft was suspected, Dorothy Duncan, our specialist cleft nurse, was by our side. She is fabulous and will be part of Tom’s life for a long time.

“The support we received was second to none, which is why we decided to give something back by fundraising.”

The fundraisers took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge – climbing Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent– at the end of March last year.

The tough challenge plus extra activities and match funding from Andy’s employer ION Geo – Concepts Systems meant they raised a grand total of £8,000 for the fund.

Jennifer added: “We were so grateful when Andy’s employer decided to make the fund their charity of the year too.

“There’s no way we could have raised so much money without the hard work and ambition of the team and we’ll never forget it.”

Peter Hodgkinson, consultant plastic surgeon, accepted the cheque from the family.

He said: “We’re hugely grateful for the efforts and amazing total raised by Jennifer, Andy and their friends.

“Although our healthcare services are funded through the NHS, generous donations to the fund like that given to us today by Jen and Andy, mean that we can go the extra mile, enhancing the quality of care we can provide and achieving things far more quickly than would be possible without charitable funding.”

Cleft lips and palates are not rare conditions. Around one in 700 babies is affected but modern techniques mean that children go on to have a normal quality of life.

However, caring for children born with the condition takes time and is expensive.