'I came to terms with the fact that I am going to die early' - Sheffield man living with motor neurone disease completes Highland walk
A Sheffield man living with motor neurone disease (MND) completed a 96-mile Highland walk to raise money for for a foundation and spread awareness of the illness.
Tim Harris-Jukes has lived with MND for almost six years, but says he feels lucky that his condition is progressing slowly and he is still able to keep active.
Tim, aged 56, decided to complete the West Highland Way walk with his wife, Nicola, walking from the outskirts of Glasgow to Fort William and has so far raised over £1700 for Motor Neurone Disease Association.
He said: “The response has been quite overwhelming. I live in Kelham and we have a community group - and they have given money. My family has been really generous. My wife is a teacher, and people from her academy trust gave as well.
"Once we started the walk it was just really nice. I was thinking have I judged the distance right, could I do it for ten days.
“It was like a holiday and the scenery was amazing. I was lucky that it was really good weather. I have got a really good sun tan from the walk although there was one day where it just rained all day.
“It’s a really amazing experience and I would recommend it to everyone.”
There are roughly 5000 people living with MND in the UK at any one time and their symptoms and experiences will differ. There is no cure and roughly half those who are diagnosed die within two years. In rare cases, some people live with the condition for decades. Tim experiences fatigue, weakness in his left arm, leg and side, muscle spasms and muscle cramps.
He added: “We got the train back to Sheffield and that was the hardest part for me because I get really stiff. I have to wait for the muscle spasms to pass before I can go to sleep.”
Tim had originally planned to complete the Kungsleden hiking trail in northern Sweden, but the Covid-19 pandemic made this an impossibility.
He plans to repeat the Highland walk or complete the Kungsleden trail next year if he is well enough.
He added: “I am a positive person and I want to look on the positive side. When you have this diagnosis you do stuff that you like doing. Three years ago I came to terms with the fact that I am going to die early. It’s tough news to get but down the line you just have to live with what you have got. You realise what is more important like family and enjoying your life.”
Tim and Nicola have two sons, Luc, aged 26, and Dom, aged 23, who have both completed dissertations concerning research areas related to MND.
Tim said: “We are very proud of their achievements and of course, of their support for their parents, and their dad with his illness. Luckily, I am still pretty healthy and we act just like any regular family, but I am sure they will support both me and my wife as my condition gets worse in the future.”
Tim was also thankful for the continuing support of Nicola and the rest of his family, as well as the MND care team at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, and everyone who has donated.
To donate to Tim’s Just Giving page, which is raising money for research into MND and to support those living with the condition, visit here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tim-harris-jukes?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=fundraising&utm_content=tim-harris-jukes&utm_campaign=pfp-tweet&utm_term=19ab15b1968f4e6aa25d386cc2261355.