Wigan family raises money for home adaptations to support dad with motor neurone disease

A Wigan family hopes to raise tens of thousands of pounds for home adaptations to support a dad diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Father-of-two John Duffy, from Pemberton, was told he had the debilitating disease in October last year, after his wife Angela spotted signs a few months earlier.

It affects the brain and spine and is the same illness that former rugby league player Rob Burrow is battling.

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The 58-year-old’s family was turned upside down following the news.

John Duff with wife Angela

Angela said: “The impact this has had on John, myself and all our family is indescribable and totally heartbreaking.

"In May/June-time I noticed his speech starting to slur when he was tired and it followed on from there.

"His grip in his left hand became a lot weaker than his right hand. Then he started getting twitching in his arms and his throat felt full every time he’d eat.

"He went to the doctors in the August and referred him to a neurologist.

John with wife Angela, daughter Megan and son Ryan
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"But because of the Covid backlog there was a 12-month wait, so we ended up going private.

"He had an appointment at the beginning of September and was diagnosed around a month later.”

Because of the gradual physical changes to John’s health, the family home needs to be adapted to facilitate a downstairs bedroom and wet room.

The family are trying to raise money for a downstairs wet room and bedroom to support John's MND
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The only way this is possible is by adding an extension – but the family has already encountered obstacles.

One of the main issues is the location of several manholes to main drains in the back garden, which they have been informed must be moved. Wigan Council is considering an application.

While the family has been awarded a disabilities facilities grant for £30,000, they need a further £50,000 to cover the manhole relocations.

Angela said: “We’re at the stage now where things are progressing quite quickly with John.

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"He uses a communication aid to speak, we have a stair-lift as he can’t get up and down the stairs himself, he can’t shower himself at all and has lost use of his arms and his grip is very poor.

"He can walk short distances but with a walking aid. He needs 24-hour care as he can’t be left on his own.

"We have been assessed to see if there is any alternative to an extension, like a through the floor lift, but unfortunately we can’t accommodate that, the house isn’t big enough.

"The drains in our back garden are the main drains to some houses at the back of us and houses in our street. Because they need to be moved, we’ve been told we’ll have to fund that ourselves. Wigan Council are putting a business case together to see if there’s any funding available but that’s not guaranteed.

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"We were advised to set up a Gofundme page as it would help the case and show we are doing as much as we can.

"Because of the condition, we haven’t got the luxury of time so we want to raise these funds as quickly as we can.

"Having this on top of caring for John is mentally and emotionally draining

People have already been donating and organising fund-raisers to help.

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"The support has been overwhelming and we want to thank everyone for their contributions and well-wishes.”