MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS - BETH ABBIT
A schoolboy battling a rare brain tumour has gone back to school - with the help of a robot.
Six-year-old Blaise Nelson was diagnosed with a brain tumour just over a year ago.
He has since been through several rounds of gruelling treatment and both his parents have quit work to look after him.
But in the last few weeks Blaise, from Didsbury, has been able to go back to school.
And he will now be enlisting the help of a special robot that helps him to communicate with teachers and his classmates.
Its amazing, hes just such a happy boy at the moment, says Blaises dad Chris Nelson.
Hes not been in hospital for a while, apart from appointments, and its really brought him out of himself.
Hes playing football and playing - theres just so much he has missed at school.
Blaise is currently on a trial drug to treat his tumours, but in the meantime he is spending most mornings back at Broad Oak Primary School, in Didsbury.
Hes defying their expectations, as usual, Chris adds.
Blaise has been spending mornings with his sister Asha, five, in the Reception Class and will be going home to carry on his learning via the AV1 robot.
The device, which has been loaned to Blaise by the Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital, links to an iPad. It will help the schoolboy take part in some of the Year 2 lessons, as he has missed several months while undergoing treatment.
The robot sits in the classroom and the pupil accesses it through a tablet while at home - becoming the eyes, ears and voice of the pupil.
Blaise can control the robots movements, give it four different facial expression and indicate that he wants to ask a question.
Chris says: Its a little robot that moves and it has a light to indicate to the teacher that he wants to ask a question. It works with his iPad and it can also show four facial expressions.
It helps him to express himself.
The robot sits in the classroom and is controlled by the pupil from home
Rachel and Chris both quit work to look after Blaise after he was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer a year ago.
Initially, doctors didnt know what was causing Blaises symptoms, until Rachel spotted a lump on his head. Medics eventually discovered that a satsuma-sized growth, was causing pressure to Blaises cerebellum.
He underwent surgery followed by 12-weeks of gruelling chemotherapy and 25 sessions of intense radiotherapy over the summer.
Experts are still working to decide how best to treat Blaise. He is expected to need further treatment in the near future but Chris says Blaise is better than he has been over the last 14 months, healthier, happier at school till lunchtime.
Comedian Jason Manford and his Charity Ninjas previously raised more than £5,000 to send Blaise on a family holiday to America.
The family had hoped to take the youngster to Animal Kingdom, in Florida, but the schoolboy cannot currently go on long haul flights. Instead they will take him to Legoland, in Denmark, later in the year.
Blaises family are organising a charity night to raise money for Blaise and for Ward 84 at Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital where he is being treated.
The party night will take place at Tribeca, on Sackville Street in Manchester city centre, on April 20th between 9pm and 4am. Minimum donations £10.
There will be sets from Suddi Raval, Mark XTC, Darren Partington 808 State, Pete Orme, Steven Dobson, Luke G, Andy J, Ziel 1, as well as Zed Bias, Jam Mcs, Jaegerossa, Disco Mums and Green Bins.
Tickets are no longer available for this event