Councillor’s inspirational trip to Africa

Chris Mosler, Tracey Cheetham and Lindsay Atkin, with the vaccine, at the Mozambique Ministry of Health, Vaccine Warehouse in Maputo. Save The Children. The Journey of "Mr Vaccine". Mozambique.
Chris Mosler, Tracey Cheetham and Lindsay Atkin, with the vaccine, at the Mozambique Ministry of Health, Vaccine Warehouse in Maputo. Save The Children. The Journey of "Mr Vaccine". Mozambique.
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a SOUTH Yorkshire councillor who writes a successful political blog has been using her social media skills to drum up support for a child poverty campaign.

Coun Tracey Cheetham, who represents the Royston ward in Barnsley where she lives, has been writing about Save The Children’s campaign to gather signatures on a petition calling for funding to vaccinate some of the world’s poorest children against preventable conditions like pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The mum-of-three has just returned from a week in Mozambique where she witnessed first hand the difference such vaccinations can make.

Today she will travel to Downing Street to deliver the petition containing more than 35,000 names to Prime Minister David Cameron, ahead of a vaccination summit on Monday. The document calls on world leaders to pledge vital funds which could save four million children’s lives by 2015.

Tracey was first inspired to become involved in campaigning for the Third World after being diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago at the age of just 35.

She underwent two mastectomies, seven months of gruelling chemotherapy, and reconstructive surgery.

But she did not want her eldest son Harry’s lasting memory of childhood to be his mum’s battle with cancer - and decided to take the schoolboy, then nine, to Africa three years ago.

They met families who were living in extreme poverty and affected by other medical issues such as HIV and AIDS - opening up their eyes to the reality of life for millions of people.

“I didn’t want the illness to be his overriding memory of growing up so decided on the Africa trip as a way of giving him an appreciation that there is a huge world out there. I wanted to show him that we need to help and contribute, rather than just sitting back playing computer games or watching the TV,” she said.

Despite her previous experiences, Tracey - also mum to Betty, nine, and Freddy, seven - said the trip to Mozambique had still been a real eye-opener.

“A village just a couple of hours away by car is almost impossibly far when there is no motorised transport and one is carrying a sick child. Yet this is what mothers are faced with,” she said.

She added: “We are so fortunate. If one of my children becomes ill, or is injured, my doctor is a couple of minutes away or I have a 10 minute drive to the local hospital.

“In countries such as Mozambique, parents do not have this easily accessible health care, so vaccines are essential.

“Doesn’t every child deserve a healthy start in life? We can help to make sure they get it by signing this petition.”

Log on to www.tchee.co.uk to read Tracey’s blog and to sign the petition.