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Man to row from Donaghadee in aid of motor neurone disease

Tommy Monteith (38), from Portpatrick, is rowing a raft 19 miles from Donaghadee in Northern Ireland, to his hometown, with 11 others in aid of MND Scotland 
Jennifer Maloney

A MAN is to row a raft 19 miles from Donaghadee to Scotland in a challenge inspired after a friend was diagnosed with a terminal illness 

Tommy Monteith (38), from Portpatrick, in Scotland, will journey from the shores of Northern Ireland, starting off with 11 others in aid of MND Scotland.

Mr Monteith decided to take on the challenge for his friend, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2015.

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness which can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, eat, speak and breathe unaided.

It affects around 120 people in Northern Ireland and 5,000 throughout the UK, including about 450 people in Scotland. There is no known cause or cure.

It is a neurological condition, which affects signals going from the brain to the muscles.

Symptoms include losing the ability to walk, speak, eat and breathe unaided, with average life expectancy being just 14 months after diagnosis.

Comedian Ronnie Corbett died earlier this year from the condition and former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen and Professor Stephen Hawking are also living with the disease.

The team of 12 are setting sail from Northern Ireland on August 26, weather permitting.

Mr Monteith said: "Years ago my dad and his friend, the one who now has MND, sailed a raft from Portpatrick to Stranaer, but I wanted to take it a step further.

"I waited until everyone had volunteered before telling them I’d changed the route to Donaghadee to Portpatrick. We reckon it’ll probably take around nine hours, at least we hope anyway.

“Being a big football fan, the first time I’d heard about MND was when Fernando Ricksen was diagnosed.

"I thought about doing something then because it sounded like such an awful illness.

"However, it wasn’t until I got a call from my friend telling me he’d been diagnosed that I actually organised something."

Iain McWhirter, head of fundraising and volunteering at MND Scotland, said, “We wish Tommy and the rest of the team a safe trip across the sea.

"Because of supporters like them, we can continue to fund research to find a cure, support people in Scotland who have been affected by MND and campaign on behalf of people with this devastating illness.

“MND Scotland provides support to people across Scotland, including one-to-one counselling, complementary therapy, a loan of our communications equipment, benefits advice and more."

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