Mum's joy as battle over school transport ends
Days of worry for a mum who feared she would lose her home and job ended yesterday when a battle over school transport was resolved.
Kate Perkins (37) says her terminally ill son, Jayden (11), will return to Gosberton House School today (Thursday) after a six-day absence.
Jayden, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, had his transport switched to a different vehicle that has a tailgate lift following a health and safety assessment.
That meant single-parent Kate was forced to keep her son off school because the new pick-up time was 20 minutes later than before, making it impossible for her to get to work on time.
Kate told us: "I would have to give up work to stay home to put him on the taxi every day. It is either this, or as a lady at the council told me today, I would be prosecuted for keeping him off school.
"My two choices are lose my job, which provides the only source of income for my terminally ill child, or face prosecution because the taxi company and council won't budge, and are discriminating against my boy."
Yesterday, after speaking to the boss of Spalding firm Royal Taxis, we broke the news to Kate that Jayden's transport would be back on time, arriving at her Swineshead home at 8.30am-8.35am.
Some time later, Lincolnshire County Council also revealed the problem had been resolved.
Kate told us: "I think you (the Spalding Guardian) made a massive difference. I could not have done it without you and I really do appreciate that."
Royal Taxis owner Mohammed Choudry switched passenger pick-up times to accommodate the family's needs, and he himself took the taxi to Kate's home yesterday and was there at 8.30am.
He said the firm does its best to help people "as much as it can" but its main responsibility is to get children to school safely and on time.
Kate, a teaching assistant at Kirkby la Thorpe Primary School, near Sleaford, had been leaving Jayden with her mum, Hilary Perkins, over the last few days because she daren't risk losing her job and the money to pay her mortgage.
Anita Ruffle, council transport services group manager, said: "We are glad the situation has been resolved and Jayden can now get to school safely and in good time that suits the family."
Before the problem was resolved, the council had promised to "look again at this issue for the family" and explained Jayden's transport arrangements were reviewed following a request from the school.
Ms Ruffle said then: "Once assessed, it was apparent that we needed to change the way he is transported in the vehicle for safety reasons.
"So Jayden is now transported in his wheelchair in a better adapted vehicle.
"We want travel time for children to be as short as possible and whilst the changes do result in a later pick up, it ensures Jayden's safety as a priority. "The health and safety of transporting disabled children is the most important concern, but we understand the difficulties faced by this family and are currently working with the operator and the school to see if another service option can be found."
* Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a muscle-wasting condition, leaving sufferers with a life-expectancy up to their mid-teens or early 20s. Jayden is also autistic and has a sensory processing disorder.
A ray of hope on the horizon for Jayden is pioneering gene editing work now being undertaken in Canada.
Kate told us: "As a family we have been fundraising for the last two years with Duchenne UK and have raised around £8,000 so far, split between Jayden's Army and DUK.
"I set up Jayden's Army to raise money for the medical equipment he will need in the future.
"Duchenne UK are an amazing charity chaired by two mums of boys with Duchenne. They used our money to partly fund a clinical trial, repurposing an existing cancer drug to try and treat Duchenne.
"Jayden is under the care of Great Ormond Street Hospital and has taken part in two clinical studies to help find if there is a correlation between anxiety and Duchenne, and also a study on how a lack of dystrophin affects brain development. The findings of his anxiety study were presented at this year's Action Duchenne Conference in Birmingham.
"Also, next summer, a close friend of mine is undertaking a 1100km cycle ride from the school where we work to Hull, then over to Rotterdam and up to Oslo, Norway. All proceeds will be split between Jayden's Army and Great Ormond Street Hospital."