Carnlough concert helps to fund the fight against motor neurone disease

A CARNLOUGH family’s fund-raising to fight motor neurone disease (MND) was given a substantial boost by a recent charity concert.

McAuley’s Bar, where the gala night was held, is owned by John McAuley, whose father, also John, died in October, 2003 at the end of an 18-month battle with the disease.

Eamon McAuley and Robin McNinch organised the Country Night, which attracted an audience of around 300 to the lounge bar. Compered by Sean Wallace, the concert featured artists including Kenny Archer, Boxcar Brian, Fiddler Adam and Nuala McAvoy.

The proceeds, which included takings from a prize draw, amounted to some £2,500.

Last week, a sum of money was presented to a local person who has been diagnosed with MND and the balance to the Motor Neurone Association.

McAuley’s has held a number of fund-raisers in recent years to help the charity care for MND suffers and to fund clinical research into the progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones (nerves) in the brain and spinal cord, which pass messages to the muscles, telling them what to do. It leads to weakness and wasting of muscles, causing increasing loss of mobility in the limbs, and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing.

The late John McAuley was aged 64 when he died. He had retired two years earlier from a career with the merchant navy, having gone to sea for the first time aged 14.

John said the family “felt helpless” as MND blighted the last 18 months of the father-of-five’s life.

“It’s a terrible disease,” said John, who said the first indication his father had MND was when he was unable to hold a spoon properly when still employed as a seaman. “One of the other men wrapped cord round the handle to help him to grip it,” he explained.

When the Carnlough man noticed he was losing power in one arm, he had tests and MND was diagnosed. As the disease progressed, Mr McAuley was wheelchair-dependant and was later confined bed, unable to move.

“He was a proud man and didn’t want anybody to see him in a wheelchair, so he was hardly out of the house,” said John, adding that fund raisers like the concert, table quizzes and other events are aimed at easing the suffering of patients and their loved ones.

“We had to modify the house and install ramps and my father needed nursing care, so it’s a lot for people to cope with,” said John, who added that he is grateful to everyone who helped in any way with the Country Night.