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June Mason presents Dr Michael Gibbons with the donation

Family raises £5,000 for research into disease that killed much-loved father

A Devon family have raised £5,200 to support research at the University of Exeter Medical School and Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E), to investigate the disease that killed a much-loved husband and father.

The donation is in memory of Bob Mason, a Chartered Engineer from Kingsbridge in South Devon, who died on 4th August 2018, aged 73, after a battle with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Bob’s wife June Mason, 73, and his children Jeremy, 46, Steve, 44, and Jo, 41, have undertaken a series of fundraising activities to help raise awareness of the condition and support research in Bob’s name. They will also be completing the London-Brighton bike ride this summer, taking place on 16th June.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) causes a build-up of scarring in the lungs, causing them to become stiffer and making it difficult to breathe. More than 30,000 people in the UK are known to have IPF, and it is responsible for one per cent of all deaths in the country, however there is currently no cure and treatments are limited. Further research is therefore critical for accelerating drug development and improving patient outcomes.

June said: “Bob was my fantastic husband of 50 years and a wonderful, much-loved father and grandfather. Bob was a very keen and knowledgeable scientist, always working on various projects and always keen to learn - an 'eternal' student! He also held a private pilot's licence and was learning to fly a gyrocopter before he fell ill. We feel that, because of Bob's passion for knowledge and science, we would really like all the donation to go to scientific research into IPF in his name.

“Three years ago the family had never even heard of IPF and so we’re keen to raise awareness and help fund the research which is obviously so desperately needed. We held a Celebration of Bob's Life in October which we named 'BobFest'. With the generosity of colleagues, neighbours, friends and family, most of whom were shocked at Bob's fast deterioration through IPF, we raised £5,200.”

Dr Chris Scotton, of the University of Exeter Medical School, and Chairperson of the British Association for Lung Research, investigates several lung conditions, with a particular focus on IPF. He said “We are incredibly grateful to June and her family for their generosity and support of the work that we are doing. IPF is a progressive condition with no current cure, and Bob’s story is a stark reminder of why we need to do more to understand the causes and find new treatments.

“IPF is responsible for thousands of deaths per year, but gets surprisingly little attention and receives only limited research funding compared to other diseases such as cancer - and that makes donations such as this even more valuable.”

Dr Michael Gibbons, Clinical Director of the South West Peninsula ILD Service, based at the RD&E, said: “It was an honour to meet Bob and his family; myself and all the ILD team were desperately saddened to hear of his passing. Bob’s memory shines brightly through the hard work and dedication of his wonderful family. Their fund raising has been amazing. Pulmonary Fibrosis, and in particular IPF, is a devastating condition in need of much more awareness, support and research. The exemplary efforts of Bob’s family will help to ensure that the lives of all patients with IPF can be improved for the better.”

The family visited the University of Exeter Medical School and RD&E on 18th March, to see how their generosity will support research into the condition.

For anyone wishing to donate to the London-Brighton bike ride, ‘Bob’s Bikers’, there is a JustGiving page which can be found here.

Date: 19 March 2019

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