Our day at Boughton House

"Not being ‘morning people’, we were not looking forward to our 6.30 am start! However, we did arrive at St. Pancras station with time to spare and enjoy a cup of coffee before embarking on the train for Kettering.

We arrived in beautiful weather and the day commenced with a warm welcome from the Duke of Buccleuch and MND Association Chief Executive Sally Light. Chris James, Director of External Affairs, explained that to enable the day to flow smoothly we would be split into three groups.

Our first session was an extremely interesting presentation by Prof. Ammar Al-Chalabi, from King’s College London. He covered the developments in diagnosis, treatment and research which has been further improved by the sharing of databases. The added bonus for us, was his delivery in language was understandable to all. This brought to our minds “Patrick’s Portraits”, and his interpretation of the Professor in one of the series, which helped to raise awareness of MND in 2010.

Tours of the garden and house followed, led by the Duke of Buccleuch and parks and gardens manager David Cullum. Sharing their extensive knowledge opened our eyes to the delights of the buildings and grounds.

At 1.45pm the allure of a “Substantial Afternoon Tea Buffet” hastened our steps towards the Marquee on the Dower House lawn.

During the afternoon session it was interesting to hear from some of the Founders how the lack of awareness and any helpful information on Motor Neurone Disease, spurred on their drive and effort to form working groups, which in turn, led to the Association as we know it today. Current Trustees also explained their work for the Association. Dr Brian Dickie, Director of Research Development, gave a talk on the future and took questions from the floor.

We found the “In conversation with: The family of Professor Stephen Hawking”, gave us an insight into the personal experience of one family coping with MND. This had led to the production of the film The Theory of Everything – which has helped to spread further awareness.

As the afternoon concluded, the Duke of Buccleuch thanked everyone for coming and said that the day would go down as a very special day for him and his team. Sally Light brought the day’s activities to a close and we were asked to adjourn to the lawn for a group photograph in the shape of the figure forty. No mean task!

During the entire day, from waiting for the shuttle bus in the morning, to “carriages at 5.00pm” there were opportunities to share experiences with other volunteers from around the country. In all, it was a day that was worth our early rising!"

Words by June & Anne - East London Development Group

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