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Thousands ‘coughed up’ for CoughAssist machine

North Worcestershire and Warwickshire residents have donated a £4,500 CoughAssist machine to the respiratory ward at the Alexandra Hospital.

Bill Roberts, 68, from Redditch, started the ‘Cough Up a Pound for CoughAssist’ appeal after a frightening experience in hospital last year. 

The CoughAssist machine clears excess mucus from airways by mimicking a real cough. Instead of clinical teams needing to put a tube down a patient’s throat to clear the airway, this equipment is fitted over the mouth and creates varying levels of pressure to simulate a cough.

Eight years ago Bill was diagnosed with the myasthenia gravis (MG), a condition that weakens your muscles by damaging the communication system between your brain and your movement muscles.

A diagnosis of MG makes day to day activities like walking, smiling and talking very difficult. When swallowing and breathing are affected and this can lead to medical emergency.

Bill said “I was rushed into the Alexandra Hospital with a chest infection. The staff took great care of me and after a week on the ward I was starting to feel on the mend.

“Feeling a bit cold one day I asked the nurses for a warm drink. When the steam from the drink hit the back of my throat my airways closed up.

“My MG made it hard for me cough my airways clear, my muscles were just too weak. Staff on the ward intervened and eventually I could breathe again.

Bill, a former Master of the Freemason Doric Lodge just outside Redditch, enlisted the help of friends from his MG support group, run by the charity myaware, and set about asking Worcestershire and Warwickshire Freemason lodges for support.

Bill continued “I found out about CoughAssist machines through my support group. A machine like this at the Alex would have really helped me out, I felt I had to do something to help patients in the same situation as me.”

“I never expected the response I received to the appeal. Within just 12 months we had raised enough to purchase the equipment. I’m so grateful for everyone’s support.”

Lynn Dale, respiratory matron at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said “As these machines aren’t classed as an essential item, there’s no funding for them in the NHS. It’s such a great bit of kit, it will really help our patients who have trouble coughing due to their respiratory conditions. We’re so grateful to Bill and everyone who’s donated to this cause.”

John Hayward, Provincial Charity Steward – Warwickshire Freemasons said “We were pleased to assist with such a worthy cause. We are confident that this donation will benefit to the hospital and its patients.”

For more information about MG and available support visit www.myaware.org.

If you’re feeling inspired to fundraise for your local hospital, call the fundraising team on 01905 760551 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.