James Kenealey disability
50 WEEKS OF GIVING | 5 MIN READ
As part of Morson’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2019, we have embarked on a ’50 Weeks of Giving’ programme, donating money each week to various local and national causes.
Morson’s Content Marketing Executive, Jessica Tabinor has been the inspiration for our latest donation. Jess lives with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a genetic bone disorder, more commonly known as brittle bones. Affecting a person born with it throughout their lifetime, it is characterised by fragile bones which break easily.
We spoke to Jess about living and working with brittle bones, found out how the Brittle Bone Society has helped her from an early age and why she wanted to help.
What were your early years with brittle bones like?
When I was born I broke my femur, my collarbone and ribs. I wouldn’t stop crying so they sent my medical information to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and within 48 hours they told my parents that I had brittle bones. I broke a lot when I was younger, for the first 12 months of my life they carried me around on a pillow!
OI is a disorder of collagen, a protein which forms the framework for the bone structure. In OI the collagen may be of poor quality, or there just may not be enough to support the mineral structure of the bones. This makes the bones weak and fragile and results in the bones being liable to fracture at any time, even without trauma.
What has been the most difficult break/operation you’ve ever had?
My back operation was the worst operation I’ve ever had. Due to the brittle bones, I’ve also got scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and when I was 11 I went for a check-up and the progression of the curvature had gotten so bad in just one year that they got me in for emergency spinal surgery. It’s a massive operation due to it being on your spinal cord, they fuse your spine, put a rod down the middle and then put screws on all of your vertebrae. It took about a year to fully recover from that one.
How was life at school, and latterly work?
It was sometimes difficult at school because I had a lot of fractures as I was growing up, so I had to have a lot of time off. I ended up having to teach myself a lot of subjects! I broke my femur just before taking my GCSE exams and my surgeon was on holiday, so I had to stay in hospital and wait for him to come back to put me back together again!
Fortunately, throughout my career, my various employers have always been really supportive of my condition and that’s certainly the case at Morson. As soon as I joined they provide me with a laptop for when I’m feeling particularly achy or have a fracture, so I can work from home when needed. When I first started working here, the CEO Ged Mason came up to me to introduce himself and made it known that if there was anything that I needed to better accommodate my wheelchair, it would be taken care of. It’s great to have that kind of support around you.
The Brittle Bone Society work towards improving the quality of life for people diagnosed with OI by providing emotional support, signposting and information, financial help for wheelchairs and equipment, and raising awareness of the condition. To find out more about the Brittle Bone Society, click here.
How did the Brittle Bone Society help you?
When I found out that we were doing the 50 Weeks of Giving initiative it felt only right to put forward the Brittle Bone Society. They have done so much for me over the years and I wouldn’t be where I am now without their support.
They provided me with walking aids, wheelchairs, you name it. When I was first born they even sent my parents specially adapted Velcro clothes that were easier to dress me in and specially designed seats to teach me how to sit up for myself. My parents also received lots of advice from Margaret Grant, founder of the Society and she put them in touch with other families who had children with the same condition which was a massive help.
Very kindly, Morson CEO, Ged offered to fund 50 kids packs which are given to children who are in hospital recovering from a fracture or operation. The kid's packs contain essentials such as wet wipes but also a variety of things to keep them entertained such as colouring books and teddy bears.
Coupled with our core charity activity, we aim to raise and donate £500,000 in total as we celebrate our 50th year in business. Our core charity activity has seen us work to raise money for the employee-chosen charities in 2019 - Motor Neurone Disease Association and ABF The Soldier’s Charity. In the last 10 years, we’ve raised over £2million for worthy causes throughout the UK such as the Seashell Trust and Destination Florida.