Charity challenge for MND sufferer

A Green Hammerton man diagnosed with terminal Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is courageously taking on a 100-mile challenge in support of Leeds Hospitals Charity.
MND sufferer Ian Flatt with his wife Rachael on the Sutton Bank circuit. Picture Jonathan GowthorpeMND sufferer Ian Flatt with his wife Rachael on the Sutton Bank circuit. Picture Jonathan Gowthorpe
MND sufferer Ian Flatt with his wife Rachael on the Sutton Bank circuit. Picture Jonathan Gowthorpe

Ian Flatt, 56, has already completed a 100-mile walk raising £17,500 for charity and has now started on his latest endurance test despite needing a respirator for 16 hours a day.

The walk which crosses the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Wolds started at the Sutton Bank National Park Centre on Tuesday October 12, in support of Leeds Hospitals Charity £5m appeal to build the new Rob Burrow Centre for Motor Neurone Disease in Leeds.

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Ian said: “I was inspired to take on another 100-mile challenge to support this important appeal, spearheaded by Rob and his family.

“Such a facility would make a vital difference to people like me and our loved ones. A bespoke care centre that meets the needs of MND sufferers and their families is so needed as MND is such a cruel disease.”

Ian, who is supported by his wife Rachael and two daughters, was diagnosed with MND in early 2019.

Ian said: “The walk earlier this year was so exhilarating, it was one of the best times of my life, it was just so beautiful.

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“It gave me a huge sense of purpose and positivity to receive such support from the public, and raise over £17k for charities. I hope to reach a similarly impressive figure this time round.”

Ian will complete the 100-mile challenge in a series of 18 walks which include some of his favourite trails around the Hole of Horcum, Rievaulx Moor, Thixendale and finishing with a trek around the dramatic Sutton Bank escarpment. Ian hopes to complete the 100-mile challenge over a four-week period.

The appeal for a new state-of-of-the-art purpose-built care centre of excellence for those living in and around the Leeds area is backed by the former Leeds Rhinos player, who was diagnosed with MND in late 2019, aged 37.

Rob Burrow, and Ian, are both cared for at Seacroft Hospital, where the MND centre is currently based.

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The current centre, built in the early 20th century, is now showing its age. A new build is needed for the advanced technology in patient care.

Patients will also have access to a range of holistic support tailored to their needs, from speech and language therapy, to diet and nutrition advice, and physiotherapy.

Ian said: “Motor Neurone Disease is a disease for which there is no treatment or cure, with 50 per cent of sufferers sadly dying within the first two years of diagnosis.

“Thanks to the critical help, compassion, expertise and kindness provided by the specialist MND Team in Leeds, my family and I have maintained our sense of fun, and our wonderful ability to laugh with each other.

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“Whilst my mobility, dexterity and respiratory functions are failing, my sense of adventure remains intact.”

Esther Wakeman, Chief Executive of Leeds Hospitals Charity hopes the new centre will provide a space for patients and their loved ones to enjoy special moments together and spark a change to MND care across the nation.

She said: “I can envisage our centre becoming a flagship in the UK and I hope that this will inspire others to replicate this up and down the country, offering thousands of MND sufferers the best quality of life and help us get closer to finding a cure one day.

“Ian is a tremendous inspiration to all of us, and we will cheer him on every step of his 100-mile challenge.”

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