Work towards finding treatments and eventually a cure for a devastating disease that remains much of a mystery to medics, will be boosted by a huge donation from a charity formed to honour a man who died from it.
Father of two Nick Smith died from motor neurone disease in December, 2017.
The Nick Smith Foundation was set up in the cherished memory of the 38-year old former Sheffield Hallam university student and Sheffield Eagles player, by his family and friends.
It aims primarily to support the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience, and the work done there in researching motor neurone disease, in a bid to find treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
Ahead of the charity’s first anniversary, Nick’s wife Rachel visited the Glossop Road research centre with Nick Smith Foundation trustees, to hand over the money raised, and find out exactly how it will help.
The donation will mean that a new state-of-the-art machine used for research, a Nanostring Ncounter, can be bought.
Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, director and founder of SITraN, accepted the money on behalf of the centre.
She said: “This wonderful donation from The Nick Smith Foundation is being used to provide cutting edge scientific equipment for the research teams within the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience.
“They are working hard to understand the mechanisms of motor neurone injury in MND and develop new treatment approaches to heal and protect these precious cells.
“The Nanostring machine enables us to message the level of expression of many different genes in MND cells compared to healthy cells,which gives us a very important picture of the disease process.
“The support of the Foundation team and all of those good-hearted people who have given their support is hugely appreciated by all of the researchers within SITraN.
“Thank you so much for your generosity and for helping our research effort in such a significant way."
In the year since the Nick Smith Foundation was formed, hundreds of people have been involved in a multitude of fundraising efforts.
From raffles to rugby tournaments, or scaling the Three Peaks to the Great North Run, tens of thousands of pounds has been raised by action taken.
As well as backing research into MND, the charity supports children having to face the death of a parent at a young age, and encourages children to take up rugby league – the sport that Nick loved to play.
Stephen Naylor, Nick’s brother-in-law, chairs The Nick Smith Foundation.
He said: “In the 18 months since Nick died, we have had a shared determination to ensure his legacy lives on.
“This charity, in his memory and his name, is already making a difference and we know this £50,000 donation to the amazing SITraN in Sheffield will make a real difference to the fight to smash MND.
“On behalf of Nick’s wife Rachel, and all the trustees of the charity, I want to thank every single person, organisation and company who has raised money, donated and supported us over the past 12 months.
“Much more is planned for the rest of 2019 and the continued support for The Nick Smith Foundation, and our family, is appreciated more than we can ever say.”
More information about the charity and the work it does can be found online at www.nicksmithfoundation.org.uk.