A massive awareness campaign highlighting brain illnesses in children has been launched, with the help of Blackpool FC.
The campaign, branded Hedzup, is the brainchild of Suzanne Clague, whose son Louis Crowson, 10, had surgery on masses growing on his brain last year.
While it was a devastating and worrying time for his family, parents Suzanne and Dale Crowson have moved on and turned the experience into a positive one.
They are determined to raise awareness of the symptoms of brain illnesses, which, they say, are commonly dismissed as flu symptoms by health professionals with support from Blackpool FC Community Trust and Layton Juniors Football Club.
The campaign will also help raise money for the neuro surgery and oncology units at Alder Hey Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
Suzanne, of Bispham, said: “Over the past 18 months we have spent many days and hours at Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital and have met some amazing children and families. Sadly the story is nearly always the same as ours – no-on listened.
“We were told several times Louis had a virus. Months can go by before a child is correctly diagnosed.
“In the past two months alone I have spoken to several families just on the Fylde Coast with the same story.”
Louis was born with neurofibromatosis type one (NF-1), which affects the gene that divides cells in the body. Although he was diagnosed at eight months old, Louis only began showing signs of the condition – headaches, dizziness and tilting his head – in the last two years.
And it’s this experience that has sparked the Hedzup campaign.
Suzanne, an ambassador for the HeadSmart brain tumour campaign, added: “We want to make parents, children, healthcare professionals, teachers and everyone in regular contact with children aware of what the signs and symptoms are.
“Diagnosing a brain tumour is not easy, as initially the symptoms may mimic a less serious illness and they vary depending on where the tumour is.”
Hedzup officially kicked off on Tuesday with some of the Blackpool FC players.
Over the next few months it will see a Hats4Heads day, when children are encouraged to wear a hat for a day and a charity football match between old Blackpool payers and a team of celebrities.
Suzanne said: “This is such an exciting time for us.
“We really thing this campaign can make a difference.”
Still in its early days, Hedzup is in need of donations of raffle prizes and children’s toys.
It is also keen to hear from people who can give their time to volunteer at the football match on May 18.
If you can help, email firstname.lastname@example.org.