In 1939, a little blonde-haired boy named Jon Brealey was born in Western Australia, the first child to doting and excited parents.
But not long after his birth, it became clear to his parents and to doctors that this child was a little different. He was developmentally delayed,
Doctors had no idea what to do with Jon – no diagnosis, no treatment, nothing. Remember, this was 1939 and the word disability was unknown to most people.
So the family went home and just got on with it, raising their son with enormous love and care.
Four-and-a-half years later, another little blonde boy joined the family – Barry. And while doctors were convinced Jon’s difficulties would absolutely not occur in a second child, they did.
Barry experienced similar delays and challenges to Jon. So their parents went about doing some of their own research.
They came across an organisation, then named ‘The Spastic Centre of NSW’. It was a centre founded by parents of children like Jon and Barry to provide treatments, therapies and support to the whole family.
The Brealey family had never heard the word ‘spastic’ but made the brave decision to head East and see first-hand what the centre had to offer their boys.
They ended up staying in NSW for 3.5 years. Through the Spastic Centre (now known as the Cerebral Palsy Alliance), they received various therapies such as physical, occupational, hydro, speech and more.
But the family was homesick and after hearing that some therapies were now being offered in WA, the decision was made to go back West.
Thankfully not long after they returned to WA, the Sir James Mitchell Spastic Centre opened in Mt Lawley. Both boys attended the centre until they were 16 years old.
In the 1970s, both boys were diagnosed with Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome (LNS), a rare congenital disorder that affects a child’s brain and behaviour. LNS shares similarities with Cerebral Palsy and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
They went on to have beautiful lives surrounded by loving family and friends. Barry passed away in 1996, aged 52 and Jon passed away in 2009, aged 69. Their legacy lives on through the Jon and Barry Brealey Trust, which helps countless children across Western Australia.
Hannah’s House was lucky enough to meet the Trustees of the Jon and Barry Brealey Trust late last year. After that meeting and much discussion, the Trust offered us an amazing grant, which was used to support our families in a variety of ways…
Liam’s family went on holiday to Dunsborough, where they went on forest walks, visited the beach, saw kangaroos, built fires and played cards.
“We loved having quality time with family,” Liam’s mum Rachael says. “We’re so thankful to the Jon and Barry Brealey Trust – this trip was just what the doctor ordered.”
Sophie’s parents Shellie and Dave had a relaxing two-night stay at the Samphire on Rottnest Island, while knowing Sophie was being cared for by Hannah’s
House staff at home.
“Dave and I had an amazing time,” Shellie says. “We hired bikes and rode around the island, taking in places and views we’d never taken the time to see before.
“We ate beautiful food, drank cocktails, slept-in and really enjoyed spending time together without any distractions.
“It was so awesome to be reminded of how much fun we can have together and that we really are best friends.”
Kobe’s family installed a dust-proof attic to help store his therapy and play equipment and Ameliah had air-conditioning installed in her bedroom.
Manna was given a dark den with coloured lights to help with stimulate visual development and a Nuna Leaf Grow Seat to improve her motor skills.
Through the Jon and Barry Brealey Trust, we were able to help more than 20 Hannah’s House families with respite, bills, equipment, holidays, and more.
Huge thank you to the Trustees for helping us bring some extra care, comfort and joy to our families.