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"Without the Fund we really would have struggled"

Former RAF Cpl Gary Pammenter left his career in the RAF to care for his son Jamie – that's when the RAF Benevolent Fund stepped up to offer help.

Gary and his wife Dawn always knew life would be tough for their 11-year-old son Jamie. He was born with the rare muscle-wasting disease, Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which will also limit his life expectancy.

The Pammenter family - Gary, Jamie, Dawn and Luke

Jamie was diagnosed when he was three years old and has needed more and more support as the disease has progressed. After 18 years serving in the RAF, Gary was forced to give up his career to become Jamie's full time carer.

When things got tight and the family could not afford to make the adaptations Jamie's disease demanded, the RAF Benevolent Fund bought a bungalow for the family to live in and, this year, redesigned the garden to make it more accessible for Jamie's wheelchair.

Gary said: "Without the Fund being there from day one we would have really struggled. The property that we lived in was not suitable for Jamie and his condition. And knowing that the Fund were a phone call away literally made such a big difference to us.

"It is a cliche but it felt like a weight was lifted off our shoulders, that we would not have to worry about a property.

"We know people with children with the same condition as Jamie and we see how much they have had to struggle and battle through things because they have not had that support, that blanket from the Fund."

Jamie attends mainstream school and in September started a new secondary school. The Fund has given him a £15,000 grant towards the cost of a new electric wheelchair that will make his life much easier. The new chair, described as 'cool' by Jamie, is fully adjustable allowing Jamie to use desks of all different heights and also has an adjustable foot rest so he can stretch his legs.

The changes to the garden mean the Pammenters can now enjoy their outside space as a family again.

Dawn added: "We didn't have any barbecues before - we felt guilty with Jamie stuck inside. We've had six already this year!"

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