Nine-year-old boy with terminal lung condition and his furry friend help sick children at Derian House

When Jacob met Ralph the cockapoo, the cheeky pair formed an instant friendship and have been inseparable ever since.
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A nine-year-old boy with a terminal lung condition has teamed up with his furry friend to help other sick children by walking every day this month.

Jacob, from Leyland, who has Down’s Syndrome, is very poorly and has been in and out of hospital throughout his short life.

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But this doesn’t stop him from getting into mischief with best friend Ralph - the cockapoo puppy who came into his life last year.

When Jacob met Ralph the cheeky pair formed an instant friendship and have been inseparable ever since. Alongside his mum and dad, Jacob will be walking with Ralph every day in February – in the hopes that the keen cockapoo will be ‘Top Dog’ in Derian House’s latest fundraising challenge.

The pair are inseparable. The pair are inseparable.
The pair are inseparable.

Jacob’s dad Andy Privett said: "Jacob and Ralph are best buddies – they’re both very cheeky when they’re together.

“We want to do as much as we can for the hospice that cares for our family. We thought that Top Dog would be a great way to support Derian House because Jacob can take part in some of it too.”

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The family has been getting their steps up by walking around local parks in Leyland, as well as hiking up Rivington Pike and visiting Lytham for some walks on the beach.

Andy added: "Jacob and Ralph are so close, they love spending time together.

The cheeky duo love spending time together. The cheeky duo love spending time together.
The cheeky duo love spending time together.

“Although Jacob is non-verbal, he has his own way of communicating – and you can see it in the way he interacts with Ralph.

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Jacob likes to leave his favourite toys in Ralph’s bed for him to play with – we often find his Toot-Toot toys lying around covered in chew marks. And when we’re reading stories at night, Ralph joins us and likes to steal Jacob’s teddies. The two of them always sit together at the windowsill waiting for Jacob’s school bus to come.

“Ralph is still a bit naughty because he’s a puppy. He’s always getting muddy, and he’ll eat anything. He stole half a chicken off our barbeque last summer and was running around the garden with it in his mouth.

“Jacob is always full of beans too. Despite everything, he is such a happy little boy. He’s incredibly tough and always smiling. He’s great fun to be around – he’s a whirlwind.”

Jacob enjoys visiting Derian House to swim in the hydrotherapy pool and to relax in the colourful sensory room.

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Derian’s Top Dog has seen 51 dogs and their owners taking part throughout the month of February.

Come rain or shine, they have vowed to walk a total of 100km to raise money for the hospice that cares for more than 400 babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions from across the North West.

Ellie Smith, Community Fundraiser at Derian House, said: “We wish Jacob and his best friend Ralph the best of luck with their Top Dog challenge for Derian House – we are so proud of them."

To donate to Jacob and Ralph’s fundraising challenge for Derian House click HERE.

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