Salford schoolboy dies from an asthma attack
17th March 2014
Tributes have been paid to a football-mad Salford schoolboy after he tragically died from an asthma attack. Ben O’Neill, 12, played for local team Bar Hill JFC in Irlams o’th’ Height and was a huge Manchester United supporter. The 12-year-old Buile Hill High School pupil suffered a sudden asthma attack at his home in Salford last week. Ben’s mother, Nicola Newns 35, said: “It was not expected at all. Ben woke up at 2am coughing, which is the usual sign that he was having an attack. I ran to get his inhaler, but he had stopped breathing within seconds.” She added: “We live just across the road from Salford Royal Hospital and the paramedics were here within a minute even though it felt like an hour. They worked on him for 48 minutes but there was nothing they could do. Ben’s brother, Jacob, has brittle asthma too, and he has been in hospital four times on a ventilator in intensive care. Ben has never had as severe attacks as Jacob, and I always feared something might happen to Jacob, but not Ben.” Asthma is a health problem that afflicts around 5.4 million people in the UK; approximately 1 in every 12 adults and 1 in every 11 children has asthma. Although the cause of asthma is open to debate and not yet fully understood, the lung problem is known to run in families, as demonstrated with Ben and his brother, and more needs to be done to raise asthma awareness – a view shared by Ben’s mother. She says: "He was loved by everyone that knew him - he was full of energy and a clown, he made you laugh. He had played football for a season with Barr Hill. His brothers played for them and he wanted to be like them too. I think people need to be educated about asthma. I would hate this to happen to another family. People think that asthma is just a bit of a wheeze which can be sorted out with an inhaler, but the type Ben had isn’t.” A one minute’s silence was held in his memory prior to all matches at the weekend in the Salford league Ben played in and 50 people have donated over £500 so far as part of an appeal fund to cover Ben’s funeral costs. The funeral will take place this Friday at St James and All Souls Church near Salford Precinct. “Not one person who met him wouldn’t smile at his memory”, says his mother. Kay Boycott, chief executive of Asthma UK, spoke on Ben’s tragic death, commenting: “It’s always distressing to hear that a child has died due to asthma, and our thoughts go out to Ben’s family and friends and this very sad time. Sadly many people don’t realise how serious asthma is because it’s so common. One in every eleven children are receiving treatment for asthma, yet every year it kills enough children to fill a classroom.”