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News: Support Grows for Cystic Fibrosis Sunflower Campaign

Gabriel and his parents and Rhythm Time teacher on Wear Yellow Day

You may have noticed an increase in the number of sunflowers this year across the UK. It's all in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust who are selling sunflower seeds to raise important funds to help the Trust's research in finding better treatments, therapies and possible cures for CF.

Frances Donkin, award-winning music franchise owner in Cheshire, and her teachers, have been supporting this cause by selling sunflower seeds at their Rhythm Time children's music classes, and giving a prize for the tallest sunflower in August.

"We heard about this wonderful idea from one of our Rhythm Time mums whose son, Gabriel, has Cystic Fibrosis," says Frances.  Gabriel (who is now two years old) has been attending Frances' classes since he was a baby and so far, a total of £586 has been donated by Rhythm Time Cheshire.

"We could never have achieved this without the ongoing generosity of our amazing Rhythm Time parents and carers," adds Frances.  "'We're selling the packets of seeds for £2 and asking parents to post photos on our Facebook page (Rhythm Time Cheshire) of the plants as they grow.  The tallest sunflower in August will win a Rhythm Time puppet and a T-shirt."

The idea of selling sunflower seeds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust was originally devised by Rob O'Donnell whose sister died two years from the disease. After buying seeds along with their family and friends, Gabriel's mum, Gemma, felt that it was a cause close to their own hearts and decided to spread the word and sell more.

Gabriel was born in April 2013 and at first everything seemed perfectly normal.  However, the results of his heel prick test came back with suspected Cystic Fibrosis.  Further tests were carried out at the Countess of Chester Hospital and Cystic Fibrosis was unfortunately confirmed. Gabriel was started on his medications and physio immediately as preventative methods. His lungs are affected and he is also pancreatic insufficient, meaning his body doesn't digest the nutrients and fats from his food, so gaining weight is difficult without pancreatic enzymes. He takes on average 22 tablets a day, and this will increase as he gets older. He has physio twice daily with inhalers and a nebuliser providing an inhaled antibiotic. This daily routine is relentless and average life expectancy is currently 41 years old, however with early diagnosis and specialist treatment this could be extended.
"We want Gabriel to live as normal a life as possible," says Gemma. "We keep him very active and always make sure he does everything he can, like other children his age. He is a happy, affectionate, loving little boy who never fails to make us smile," she adds.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust are running their own Sunflower competition and are encouraging supporters to post pictures of their plants onto their Facebook page (Grow Sunflowers for CF in 2015) and the winner will receive an XBox.  They also have a 'Just Giving' page for donations and this can be found at

Posted: 8th Jul 2015

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