Carer’s American dream

Laura-Jane Hesslewood with her mum Pauline and dad Peter. Picture by FRANK REID
Laura-Jane Hesslewood with her mum Pauline and dad Peter. Picture by FRANK REID

A MUM who suffers with a raft of life-threatening conditions says her doting daughter is her “lifeline” for the care she gives her.

But Pauline Hesslewood understands that her daughter Laura needs her freedom and that’s why she is backing her plans to be a counsellor at Camp America, in Massachusetts, USA, for nine weeks in the summer.

Laura, 19, “does everything” for Pauline, 59, who is wheelchair-bound after suffering prolapsed disks in her legs and back six years ago and also battles a range of conditions, including emphysema, chronic heart disease, diabetes, angina and high blood pressure.

She also suffers from potentially life-threatening sleep apnea, which means she can stop breathing while sleeping and has to wear a special respirator mask and take 30 different tablets each day.

Laura needs £1,000 to get to America, and although she and her family have managed to raise £400 so far, they are appealing for sponsorship to help send her on her way.

East Durham College student Laura, who wants to eventually become an activities leader, lives with mum Pauline, who receives disability benefits, dad Peter, a 50-year-old ex-miner, who does not work as he is also a carer for Pauline, and Laura’s twin brothers, Peter and Andrew, 18, in the Acre Rigg area of Peterlee.

She said: “I can’t count how many times my mam says sorry to me for what I have to do, but I want to do it.

“But it would be the best thing in the world for me to go to Camp America - it would be the start of me getting a life.”

Pauline, who also gets help from her sons, added: “I would be lost without her, but I want her to go and have the experience, I think she deserves it for what she has done for me.

“I didn’t have my children to look after me, I still want them to have chances.”

The family have a number of fundraising events coming up, including “chatterbox” dad Peter doing a sponsored silence, the sale of specially-crafted pieces Peter makes from wood and Laura doing a cake sale.

Laura is supported by Horizon, a sub-section of DISC, which helps young carers.

Anyone who can help sponsor Laura can contact Mark Blyth at Horizon on (01325) 731160.