A LEADING Thalidomide campaigner from North Yorkshire has hailed news that the Government is to continue funding the ongoing health costs of victims of the drug as an “early Christmas present.”

The Thalidomide Trust is to receive £80 million of government funding over the next ten years, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb announced yesterday.

Guy Tweedy, 50, of Harrogate, who has a shortened left arm and deformed fingers on both hand, said the renewed grant meant a great deal to the 431 Thalidomiders still living in the UK today, and would cover some of the costs of their ever-increasing health needs and the rising expense of their day-to-day living with deformities caused by the “wonder drug.”

In May 1962, the drug – prescribed to pregnant women as a cure for morning sickness – was withdrawn after it was linked to crippling side effects in new born babies.

At least 2,000 were born with deformities brought about directly by Thalidomide, and more than half of them died within their first year.

An unknown number also died in the womb.