In 1994 my father was told he had a progressive disability. I was 13 and my sister Helen was 11 so we didn’t really understand how serious it was.
The diagnosis of MND finally came in 1995, by which time Dad had given up the job he loved as a gardener along with our house, as it was tied to the estate where he worked."The scientist in me wanted to find out why my father had got this disease and I wanted to help other people affected by it."
We moved into a new home with just a muddy patch for a garden, but Dad relished the challenge of turning this unpromising terrain into a lovely garden.
The MND Association and Social Services became indispensable as his condition deteriorated, providing essential equipment such as stair lifts, ramps, wheelchairs and of course someone for him to chat to.
In November 1998 Dad lost his battle with MND. He died peacefully at home leaving us behind with wonderful memories, a beautiful garden and a shared passion for nature and biology that has influenced us all.
The year after my dad’s death I took my A level exams and got a place at Cardiff University to study genetics. When the time came to choose a career, I knew that I wanted to carry on in research.
On the MND Association website I found what I was looking for, a post with a group that was investigating the possible causes of MND.
The scientist in me wanted to find out why my father had got this disease and I wanted to help other people affected by it. I got the job, and in December 2004 I presented our work at the International Symposium on MND/ALS.
I felt very honoured to have the opportunity to speak in front of such a large and respected audience. But I can also say I was truly terrified!
Working in MND research has helped me come to terms with what happened to my father and has also given me immense hope that the mystery of MND can one day be solved.