A PORTAVOGIE family are campaigning to have an asthma awareness presentation rolled out across Northern Ireland.

Simon Williamson and his wife Barbara have created a presentation alongside medical professionals in a bid to educate others on the dangers of asthma and how to recognise if someone is having an asthma attack.

The couple are urging the public to take asthma seriously after their 16 year-old daughter Rachel passed away in 2017 following an asthma attack.

In memory of their daughter, Simon and Barbara created the Rachel Williamson Foundation, to educate others on the dangers of asthma.

Simon explained that they are constantly working on the presentation to ensure the information is up to date.

“The presentation has been developed and redeveloped over the past few years, as things change,” he said.

“The programme is informative and educational, it’s made for asthma sufferers and others as well as alert people to the dangers to asthma sufferers.

“There is a personal side and a professional side so the presentation brings the both together. It tells the story of a young girl who lost her life to asthma and also brings into line the dangers of asthma.”

Mr Williamson said some of the topics covered are the importance of taking medication correctly and getting regular check-ups that could prevent a life-threatening situation.

The presentation also shows how and why to take an inhaler.

While the programme was originally ear marked for schools, universities have actually been the first to roll out the presentation.

“We’ve been having difficulties with the Education Authority for the last year, emailing backwards and forwards trying to get meetings in place, but nothing as yet,” said Simon.

“But the presentation is being used, it’s not sitting dormant. It’s going to be used in Queen’s University as part of the modular training for junior doctors and also junior nurses. That’s through contacts with Professor Mike Shields. There’s also talks about the programme being used in the Ulster University and Stranmillis College.

“There’s a lot of irons in the fire and we’re still trying to get it into schools. It’s Rachel’s presentation, it’s her way of alerting people to the dangers, I’m only her voice, it’s Rachel’s way.”

Simon and Barbara wanted Northern Ireland to be the first to implement this programme as it would be the first of its kind in schools. Research shows that a similar programme in Finland stopped asthma deaths within 10 years.

In June, Simon and Barbara, along with politicians Robert Adair and Michelle McIlveen, met with a representative from the Asthma and Lung UK charity, Andrew Wilson. They discussed the roll out of the educational programme across the UK.

Robert Adair said: “The work and plans that Simon, as founder of the Rachel Williamson Foundation, has developed together with his medical partners and community support is simply a wonderful tribute and will save scores of lives if our colleagues in education, health and sport and partners locally take it on board.

“I will lobby for more active engagement across local sports clubs for this inspirational learning programme on asthma and its prevention in memory of Rachel,” said Mr Adair.

“If you or your group would be interested in seeing the presentation or to learn more get in touch with Simon on 07512 768 781.”