A CARER and her husband who help run a support group for people suffering from a lung condition say it is good to see people benefitting from the invaluable assistance.

The British Lung Foundation launched a monthly meet-up in Clacton in January to help the 3,000 people living in the area with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The condition is a collection of medical complications which lead to severe lung deterioration, causing chest infections, breathlessness and persistent coughing.

Primarily caused by years of smoking, more than 3 million people in the UK are affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but other factors such as allergies can also have an impact.

Richard Smith, 70, of Flatford Drive, Clacton, was diagnosed with the condition five years ago, ten years after giving up the cigarettes.

Due to the severity of his condition, Mr Smith, who has had several heart attacks, struggles to breath and sleeps with oxygen to relieve the strain on his lungs.

His wife Rose, 62, has been his full-time carer ever since a series of tests confirmed the suspicions of doctors.

Mrs Smith said: “The condition has affected Richard’s life more than mine, but we don’t go anywhere without each other in case something happens.

“I make sure he takes his medication and has his oxygen when he is supposed to.

“He has some good days where he is thankful for what he has, and some bad days where he doesn’t want to go out and he can’t breathe properly.

“Sometimes I worry he might not wake up from his sleep. Those are the days when I really worry for him.”

The couple have since found solace in the British Lung Foundation’s Clacton support group, which meets on the last Wednesday of every month at the Brotherhood Hall.

They became members immediately after the group materialised and also help to run and organise the vital gathering.

Mr Smith has greatly benefited from the group, by being able to share his experiences of the disease with others like him who are also battling the condition.

He said: "If you was to see me at four in the morning in my chair, when I am struggling to breath, it isn't a nice sight at all. "The group is great because we can all help each other and help raise awareness of the condition. "We have speakers come in, but sometimes we just sit and talk to each other - I will speak to someone about their experiences, and they will speak to me about mine - it helps."

The group has also given Mrs Smith a chance to build relationships with other residents also looking after loved ones, while being able to offer first-hand advice.

She also believes the meet-ups help to bring the severity of lung conditions and what can be done to minimise complications into public discussion. “It has been good for Richard to realise there are other people out there who have the same condition and he has benefitted from that," she said.

“Sharing experiences helps so much. There is a lot of people out there who don’t know anything can be done to help the condition, but this group can make them more aware.

“I enjoy doing the group knowing that I am helping people and giving them a couple of hours out of the house where they can meet people with something in common.”

To find out more about the British Lung Foundation’s Clacton support group visit blf.org.uk or call 03000 030 555.