Special day for battling South Shields boy Jack as he turns five

Jack Smith with his dad Mark. Picture by Jane Coltman.
Jack Smith with his dad Mark. Picture by Jane Coltman.

Today is a special day that little Jack Smith’s parents thought they’d never see – his fifth birthday.

The youngster, of Whiteleas, South Shields, lives with a number of medical conditions after he suffered brain damage at birth, and is the centre of a £20,000 appeal to make his life easier.

We never thought he’d get to one, never mind five.

Debbie Patterson, Jack’s mum

Jack is registered blind, needs hearing aids and has epilepsy and cerebral palsy among other issues.

But today is a special day for Jack, a pupil at Keelman’s Way in Hebburn, and one that his parents Debbie Patterson and Mark Smith feared they might never see.

Debbie, 37, a mental health nurse for the NHS, said: “It’s mixed emotion. I always struggle around Jack’s birthday because it was a very traumatic time. We never thought he’d get to one, never mind five, but it’s a bittersweet time of year.

“We are so glad that he’s still here with us but it’s a shame that he can’t do what the other children do.

“But it doesn’t matter because he’s happy and smiles non-stop when he’s not ill and that’s all that matters.”

In a bid to make Jack more comfortable, the family is trying to raise money to build a downstairs bathroom and bedroom at their home, so he doesn’t have to be carried upstairs.

A grant from South Tyneside Council covered £30,000 but another £20,000 is needed for the job. So far, kind people have come forward to donate almost £6,500.

Debbie added: “It was a massive shock to us that so much money came in so soon.

“Everyone has just been so kind and lovely. Having the space downstairs for Jack would just make such a huge difference.”

To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/Jacksmith