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Fans unite to battle disease

PUBLISHED: 21:30 27 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:33 03 March 2010

FOOTBALLING rivalry took a back seat at Portman Road last night for two passionate fans who are fighting a different goal - to beat cystic fibrosis.

Ipswich Town fan Georgia Ball, 10, of High Road, Swilland, near Witnesham, and Bradford City fan Adam Whalley, 11, of The Avenue, Trimley St Mary, both suffer from the energy-sapping disease, cystic fibrosis.

FOOTBALLING rivalry took a back seat at Portman Road last night for two passionate fans who are fighting a different goal – to beat cystic fibrosis.

Ipswich Town fan Georgia Ball, 10, of High Road, Swilland, near Witnesham, and Bradford City fan Adam Whalley, 11, of The Avenue, Trimley St Mary, both suffer from the energy-sapping disease, cystic fibrosis.

Last night's match between their two beloved sides at Portman Road was marked by the presentation of signed shirts to Georgia and Adam, who was Bradford City's mascot for the evening.

Both shirts will be auctioned off on the Ipswich Town Football Club website to benefit a newly formed group aiming to support the families and friends of sufferers.

The Cystic Fibrosis support group was formed by three mothers of children suffering from the disease. Yvonne Whalley and Tracey Ball were instrumental in the project and were delighted to see their children receive the shirts on the Portman Road pitch.

Tracey, a north stand season ticket holder at Ipswich Town, said: "Bradford and Ipswich have been fantastic, especially bearing in mind the financial problems that Bradford are in.

"I would like to thank both football clubs on behalf of all the kids in this area with cystic fibrosis. They did not have to do that and I really feel strongly that they should be personally thanked."

The group meets regularly at The Swan pub, on Westerfield Road, Westerfield, and provides an informal environment for people to share their experiences. Around 12 families have attended the sessions so far.

Yvonne, who was supporting Bradford City from the Cobbold Stand, said: "It sometimes helps just to talk to someone in the same situation as you. There is nothing in this area for the families but this helps people to relax and get support from within the group.

"We wanted to keep it outside the hospital because we all spend a lot of time there."

Tracey added: "It is a very informal group for friends and families and is very much needed. I think the beer helps to get a lot of the dads to come along too!"

Until last night, the two youngsters, who both take around 50 tablets and have three physiotherapy sessions each day, had never been able to meet because of the ease in which germs are passed between fellow sufferers.

Last night they were able to come together because of the reduced risks of meeting in the outside air.

Both youngsters were looking forward to their big night, but they went home with conflicting emotions as Bradford City ran out as winners. At least for Adam it will be a chance to get his own back on his Ipswich Town supporting friends.

The next meeting of the group is on September 19 when a 36-year-old sufferer will be talking through his experiences. For more information call 01394 670986.

WEB LINKS

www.itfc.co.uk

www.bradfordcityfc.co.uk

www.cftrust.org.uk

www.cff.org

Fact File

Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disease, which affects vital organs in the body, especially lungs and pancreas, by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.

It is the UK's most common life-threatening inherited disease and affects more than 7,500 babies, children and adults.

Symptoms can include poor weight gain, troublesome colds, repeated chest infections and salty sweat.

About one in ten CF babies is born with a blocked bowel (meconium ileus) and this blockage may be apparent on ultrasound scans taken before birth.

Serious symptoms and complications include infection, inflammation, malnutrition, diabetes, liver failure and osteoporosis.

The average life expectancy for someone with CF is around 31 years.

There is no known cure yet, but the faulty gene which causes it has been identified and doctors and scientists, many funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, are working to develop a technique for replacing or repairing it.

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