A day to remember

Francis House family experience the VIP treatment at Manchester United.

Francis House family at Manchester United FC in exec box

Rebecca, Neal and Patrick with Joseph at Manchester United.

When Francis House offered the parents of sixteen-year-old Joseph Breslin a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the VIP treatment at Manchester United, the family were delighted.

An executive box for the Boxing Day fixture had kindly been donated by The British School in Tokyo.

The experience came as a welcome relief to dad Neal, mum Rebecca, Joseph and his older brother Patrick, after their world was turned upside down when Joseph’s health drastically deteriorated in the summer of 2018.

Joseph was born with a rare genetic condition, MECP2 duplication syndrome, which causes weak muscle tone, global developmental delay, epilepsy and recurrent chest infections. The family have been coming to Francis House for respite care for more than seven years.

At the age of fourteen, Joseph began to struggle eating and swallowing his medicines. He underwent a gastrostomy and returned home the next day.


Unfortunately, he became unwell and returned to hospital where his condition deteriorated. Joseph developed sepsis and pneumonia and was put on a ventilator. It was a terrifying time for the family.

Rebecca explained: “Joseph was going downhill really fast, and after 5 weeks in intensive care the only option was to have a tracheostomy to help him to breathe. Our lives were hard before, but this was life-changing for all of us.”

Following eight months in hospital the family returned home to Royton, Oldham. Rebecca is Joseph’s full-time carer and Neal has a busy career as a police officer.


“It was an awful time and the Francis House homecare team nurses visited us while Joseph was on ICU. To see familiar faces was unbelievable. They would sit with Joseph so we could have a break.

“Since we’ve returned home due to his ventilation needs, Joseph requires round the clock care and two people to be with him all of the time. The homecare visits give me some much-needed time out.”

Joseph has physiotherapy three times a day, and the adapted family home is filled with equipment including humidified oxygen to keep Joseph as well as possible.

“Having the tracheostomy was completely life-changing. Our normal life is hectic, we never know one day to the next how he is going to be, and we take every day as it comes.

“When we went to Manchester United it was amazing. To be able to spend a day out all together and for everything to be planned was such a treat. Patrick is a huge United fan, we met Juan Mata at the hospice before Christmas, and that was fantastic. We were so well looked after, being taken to see the pitch and served a three-course meal by our own waitress, was wonderful.”

Rebecca Breslin

Neal’s parents Kath and Jim Breslin, as well as his cousin Laura and her dad Lee Taylor were also invited.

“Joseph watched the match from his wheelchair up on the balcony. He loved it, clapping at the crowd noise for quite a while. Former player Lee Martin and a magician also came to see us before the game.

“Francis House has been amazing for the support that they have given us.  We can’t thank them enough for giving us this incredible opportunity – I will remember that day forever.”

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