My name is Tom and I’ve always been passionate about the environment. I feel completely at home out and about in the woods; it’s one of the reasons I started working for the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research Agency almost 15 years ago (and one of the reasons I still do). One of the things I used to love most was taking a walk amongst the trees - seeing the seasons change, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of nature with my family.
Sadly, in 2021, an MND diagnosis changed our lives forever. The disease badly affected my balance, so much so that just before Christmas 2022, I had an awkward fall which left me partially paralysed from the waist down.
The accident confined me to a wheelchair, and it became virtually impossible to leave my own home. Our house sits at the top of 11 steep steps, and the only way to get in or out of it was with the assistance of a two-person ambulance team – or have a lift installed, which was way beyond our financial means.
In the blink of an eye, MND took away my freedom to go outside – it was devastating.
Thank goodness for the MND Association. Their support has made such a tremendous difference to me and my family and I have so much more to look forward to this Christmas and beyond. Please would you give a gift today to help another family like mine?
After my diagnosis, I contacted the MND Association and started communicating with one of their Area Support Co-ordinators, who connected me to local support and services. The Association recognised my individual needs and how important it was for me to be able to get outside the house.
"Our Area Support Co-ordinator has been a listening ear for all of us."
Tom with his Area Support
I never imagined we’d be able to raise enough to afford the lift – especially as my wife, Rowan, had to give up work to care for me. But thanks to the kindness of supporters, the MND Association contributed towards the cost. This summer the lift arrived and I can’t even put into words how life-changing it has been. Soon after it was installed, I was able to go out for a meal with Rowan – something we haven’t been able to do since my fall. I’m also able to get outside when I want and breathe in the fresh air. Honestly, I feel like I’ve got my independence back. It also means this year we’ll be able to go to the local Christmas panto as a family – a tradition we’ve always loved.
A donation today could help provide life-changing personalised support to more people like me living with this awful disease.
I was shocked to learn that MND affects 5,000 people in the UK at any one time – that’s potentially 5,000 families, all with different needs. The personalised support I received from the MND Association changed my world – and my family’s. My children have all dealt with my diagnosis in their own way, aided by the personal support they’ve received from the Association. They’ve all had counselling sessions and my younger children – Jack and Hazel – both received a £250 Children and Young Person’s grant.
Jack has been able to buy some fishing equipment, which is something he can do to escape the reality of everyday life with a parent living with MND. And my daughter Hazel has used her grant to enable her to go on a school trip to New York. One of my main concerns when I was diagnosed was how my children would cope. Knowing there is support out there for them that can help them grab opportunities and enjoy life with their friends is reassuring. I’m so grateful to the MND Association for that. My wife and I have also really benefitted from the support groups available in our area. Although I mostly attend online now, being able to connect with people who are in a similar situation is absolutely wonderful, to share both the positive experiences and the frustrations of our MND journey.
Whether it’s an outdoor lift that means I can get into the forest again, supporting the children, or an opportunity for me and Rowan to talk to others, the MND Association’s support has made a huge difference to the whole family’s wellbeing.
But I know there are thousands of families like mine who also need personalised support. Everyone’s experience of MND is different, so every family and individual will have different needs. So please, donate today so that more families living with MND can get the support they need.
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas. And thank you for choosing to support the MND Association.
P.S. When I’m enjoying the great outdoors this winter, I’ll be thinking about your kindness and how you’ve helped make our family Christmas a more positive one. Thank you so much.