A Lewis woman who co-founded MND Scotland has said for the first time in her life she is hopeful of a cure.
Peggy Macleod MBE has spoken as the charity commemorates its 40th anniversary.
Mrs Macleod’s husband John, a former Strathclyde police officer, was diagnosed with the degenerative disease aged 33.
The Scottish MND Association was formed two years after on June 23, 1981 as, at the time, there was no dedicated support for those suffering from MND.
Since then, MND Scotland, as it was rebranded in 2009, estimates that more than £30 million has been raised over the course of its 40 year existence.
Charity’s progress ‘totally overwhelming’
Mrs Macleod said: “Forty years ago, we launched the Scottish MND Association from our living room.
“When I look at the progress that’s been made in the last few years, it’s totally overwhelming.
“John would be absolutely amazed and proud of what’s been achieved.
“All he ever wanted was for other people going through MND to have support they need, and to move us towards finding a cure.”
Bring us closer to a cure for this awful, devastating condition.”
Mrs Macleod has urged people to support the charity in their quest to find a cure for MND.
She added: “For the first time in my life, I feel that there is hope.
“That’s why I’m asking you to donate whatever you are able to for the charity’s 40th birthday.
“With your support we can continue to build incredible things on the foundation John laid all those years ago and bring us closer to a cure for this awful, devastating condition.”
The charity invests millions of pounds into research each year and also aims to improve the quality of life, and raise awareness of the disease, to ensure the voices of sufferers are heard.
Innovative charity challenges
Over the years the charity has captured the attention of the public through innovative charity challenges, the most famous perhaps being the ice bucket challenge.
The funds raised have helped aid the estimated 200 people each year in Scotland who are diagnosed with MND.
In 2020, MND Scotland invested £1.5 million into launching a clinical drug trial aimed at slowing, stopping or reversing the progression of the degenerative disease.
Sports stars and celebrities have fundraised for the charity, with former Scotland rugby star Doddie Weir, who suffers from MND, granting funds from his foundation.
Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s interim chief executive, said: “We are celebrating MND Scotland’s 40th anniversary and the incredible things achieved in that time.
“Forty years ago there was no care, support or treatment for people with MND in Scotland.
“Today, our team delivers essential support services to hundreds of families across the country.
“Together, we have created real change at a political level, ensuring people with MND have the right to communication aids, and are fast-tracked for certain benefits.”
On this day 40 years ago the Scottish MND Association was created in Peggy and John's living room.
Today, MND Scotland provides life changing services and leads the fightback against motor neurone disease. Thank you for making it possible. #MND
— MND Scotland (@MNDScotland) June 23, 2021
He continued: “We’ve come a long way in 40 years, and none of this would be possible without supporters like you, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
“But we’re not done fighting yet.
“We need your help to continue the fight, so together we can beat MND.”
Since launching 40 years ago, the charity has secured dedicated health specialists and drugs to try to combat the illness, as well as securing the right to free of charge communication aids for MND sufferers.
What is Motor Neurone Disease?
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal neurological illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.
This causes muscle weakness and wasting.
Symptoms may include losing the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or breathe unaided.
The average life expectancy for somebody diagnosed with MND is just 18 months after diagnosis.
There are currently around 400 people in Scotland currently living with MND, with an average of 200 people each year diagnosed with the illness.
To find out more about MND, visit: www.mndscotland.org.uk/40
Donations to MND Scotland can also be pledged by texting CUREMND to 70660 to donate £5.