Gosport school teacher in ‘race against the clock' as he battles debilitating form of multiple sclerosis

A MUCH-LOVED teacher is racing to fundraise for vital treatment that will stop a debilitating illness from taking over his life – but needs help to reach his goal.

Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 3:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 4:49 pm
Jonathan Pearce's condition will worsen without treatment, but he 'doesn't want to be a burden' on society or his family. Picture: Sarah Standing (150219-1296)

Jonathan Pearce, 42, from Hill Head, is suffering from primary progressive multiple sclerosis – a rare form of the illness that causes a steady decline in the person's health.

There is treatment that can halt this debilitation, but it will cost Mr Pearce £40,000 as he travels to Russia to receive it.

The treatment, called haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), is available on the NHS, but Mr Pearce says that the long wait for treatment coupled with a race against the clock leaves him with no choice but to fund the treatment himself.

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Jonathan Pearce's condition will worsen without treatment, but he 'doesn't want to be a burden' on society or his family. Picture: Sarah Standing (150219-1296)

So far, he has managed to raise £30,000 – but is now appealing for support to get him over the finish line.

The treatment is booked for next month, so the race is now on to give Mr Pearce the help he needs.

The school where he teaches, Bedenham Primary School in Gosport, held a ‘Dress as Mr Pearce’ day before the half term break, to help with the fundraising.

Mr Pearce said: ‘With normal multiple sclerosis you are given drugs, get better and then may repeat the cycle when you relapse; with my condition things just get steadily worse.

Bedenham Primary School teacher Jonathan Pearce with his twin boys Finn and Oscar, both eight. Picture: Sarah Standing (150219-9382)

‘At the moment I am still fairly capable and visibly there’s nothing wrong with me, but as it debilitates I need to get this done as soon as possible.

‘It’s already affected my day-to-day life. I used to be able to do DIY work but now I can’t even feel my fingers when holding a power drill.

‘I struggle to do up the buttons on my shirt and lose concentration quite often – but above all the fatigue I feel is just unbelievable.’

If the condition gets worse, Mr Pearce could be confined to a wheelchair, something he is determined to avoid for his family’s sake.

He says that he doesn’t want his partner Helen to be turned into a full-time carer.

Mr Pearce said: ‘If the treatment works, it will halt the illness’ progression; it probably won’t get better but I’ll be stable at least.

‘One of the biggest challenges is the impact on my family. When we got married my wife didn’t sign up for this.

‘You don’t normally get into a relationship thinking that you’ll end up as the other person’s carer, and to be honest I feel quite guilty about that.

‘I don’t want to be a burden on her, and I don’t want to be a burden on society; I’m a teacher, I love my job and I want to carry on doing it.

‘The support I have had from the school, parents and the children themselves has been sensational – I’m eternally grateful for the kindness everyone has shown me.’

Parents past and present have rallied behind Mr Pearce as he looks to reach his funding goal.

Cerys Johnson said: ‘My son was due to start in Mr Pearce’s class in September last year but we moved to Wales in the summer.

‘Ieuan was very much looking forward to Year 5 as Mr Pearce had always made learning fun.

‘We all wish him well and hope he reaches the target needed to get the treatment he deserves so very much.’

To donate to Mr Pearce’s cause, please go to gofundme.com/hsct-ms-treatment-for-jonathan-ms-pearce.