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Families pay for teacher to fly home after suffering stroke

Bob Allison
Bob Allison Image credit:

A group of schoolchildren have become top of the class for raising enough money to fly their teacher home after he suffered a serious stroke in China.

Bob Allison became paralysed on his left side on January 4 and was receiving treatment at Yangzhou Hospital, thousands of miles from his family living in Bristol.

The 68-year-old moved to China after spending 40 years teaching kids in the UK to work in a Chinese middle school.

When his ex-pupils heard about Mr Allison’s illness they launched a fundraiser that raised more than £50,000 within hours of going live.

Bob’s daughter Claire, 32, told ‘Over the last few months of 2020, dad’s health deteriorated significantly, and he suffered from confusion and several accidents, culminating in this stroke at the very start of this year.

‘Since January, he has been receiving treatment at Yangzhou Hospital, but despite two months of rehabilitation he is still unable to stand or walk independently.

‘The stroke has left him largely immobile in the left side of his body.

‘He also has a worryingly high blood platelet count, leaving him at high risk of having another stroke.

‘He is also very low mentally, I worry that the longer he is left there the worse he will get. He is confused and depressed.

‘He doesn’t know why he can’t come home, no matter how much I try to explain I am trying my best.’

It’s vital Bob can travel back to the UK as soon as possible, doctors told him he is very likely to have further strokes because of his high blood platelet count, but his flight home is expected to cost around £35,000 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

If they leave it too late he may be too ill to travel and left stranded in China.

‘It is the recommendation of the Chinese hospital that he is transferred back to the UK as soon as possible in order to receive the best possible treatment,’ Claire said.

‘But, with borders currently closed and the Chinese Embassy not currently issuing entry visas, our best hope of getting him back to the UK is to go down an official repatriation route.

‘However, with few commercial flights currently available and compulsory 14-day quarantine periods, this is likely to come at an extremely high cost.

‘Unfortunately, my dad’s employee insurance will not cover any repatriation costs, and is unlikely to cover much of his outstanding medical bills from the last two months owing to pre-existing medical conditions.’

Before he emigrated to China Bob taught at the Chantry School in Martley, his former pupils called him a ‘fabulous teacher’.

When the fundraiser was launched online it attracted a stream of messages from parents wishing to share their well-wishes.

Julia Evans pledged £20, she wrote: ‘Wonderful to see the depth of feeling for lovely Mr Allison. My boys had only kind words for him.

‘Sending our love and best wishes to you and your family for your Dad’s safe return home.’

Sarah Burgoyne, who donated £50, said: ‘Mr Allison you are one of life’s truly kind and inspirational teachers.

Within six hours the total had rocketed to £50,000.

Claire updated everyone by posting a heartfelt message which read: ‘This is so incredible! Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all of these donations.

‘I’ve been totally overwhelmed by the kind messages and support I’ve received for my dad.

‘I never dreamed I would hit the target within just six hours of the fundraiser going live!

‘I know he would be very grateful for the support too; I will save all of the comments and messages to share with him when he is home.

‘I am so overwhelmed by the generosity shown by the community, we didn’t ever expect it to take off like it has.

‘We felt guilty for setting up the page, we wanted to find the money ourselves.

‘But, with no end in sight and the mounting costs, we realised we needed help.

‘I never dreamed that we would hit our goal in such a short amount of time, I am so grateful. This money will make a huge difference.

‘It just goes to show how many people dad touched during his career. It is such a relief to know that we can now do all we can to bring him home. We really appreciate it.’

Bob Allison’s medical bills have already cost him more than £12,000.