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How we supported Flight Sergeant Mark Yardley

Like any new parents, in May 2006, Flight Sergeant Mark Yardley and his wife Dawn were excitedly looking forward to the birth of their first child. But complications during Dawn's labour meant their baby son, Sam had been starved of oxygen during delivery and they were later given the devastating news that he had suffered brain damage. In this guest blog, Mark, a senior training crewman on 18 Squadron, explains how the family have coped with Sam's condition, with a little support from the RAF Benevolent Fund.

Sam was born at 14:04, he was blue, floppy and silent. After I'd cut the cord he was rushed onto a resuscitation trolley and suddenly Sam was surrounded by a lot of uniformed people and we couldn't see him. He wasn't responding to being given oxygen or the efforts of the team and I can remember Dawn asking me, "Why isn't he crying? Why can't I hear Sam?"

Mark Yardley

The incident at birth gave Sam an oxygen starvation injury and he was diagnosed with athetoid cerebral palsy and he is quadriplegic, he also suffers from epilepsy. He will basically need 24-hour care for the rest of his life.

When Sam was born we were fine living in married quarters but it soon became obvious that our home was too small as Sam started to need more and more equipment, we knew we would need to move fairly soon. There wasn't a married quarter in our area that was big enough and suitable for wheelchair use and specialised equipment. We had no idea what we were going to do.

We'd built an important support network around us, and the area has the best specialist school for children with cerebral palsy so we were reluctant to move away.

The Warrant Officer PSF on the station suggested I speak to the RAF Benevolent Fund to see if they could help us. I was reluctant to at first because you think there are people out there who have far more pressing problems and you don't want to ask for charity but actually, when I look back, I realise we just couldn't have afforded to move without the Fund's help.

Without their support we would have had to move away from the Health Care Trust that we have such a good relationship with, schools and most importantly our support network. It would have been very difficult, not just for us but for Sam as well.

The Fund have helped us make adaptations to the house, including hoists, level access entry and a through floor lift, allowing Sam to access the whole house in his wheelchair. As he grows his needs have changed, his equipment is also changing and getting bigger! Because of the Fund, we have peace of mind that we can stay in our home for as long as we need to, and our home is adapted to Sam's needs. It has definitely taken that extra pressure off. 

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