Our Christmas appeal
Without the support of regular respite, caring relationships can come under incredible strain. Your gift this Christmas will help us support families who simply need a break in order to recharge their batteries and continue caring for their loved one at home.
I remember walking back to the locker room after a game of rugby and thinking, "Why am I limping? I don't remember injuring myself?"
Within a few months, I was diagnosed at the very young age of 16 with MS and my life changed forever.
I could no longer play rugby or golf. I had to learn to write with my opposite hand. In fact, my condition progressed so rapidly that I was having to use a wheelchair before I even made it to my next birthday. I remember being worried that I wouldn't be able to go to Italy with the school orchestra in which I played the double bass. It was a very difficult time for me. I was scared and didn't see the point of carrying on when I could no longer do the same activities as my friends that had been such as large part of my life before.
It is only with the help of others that I have been able to accept my condition and learn to enjoy life for what it is - although I could no longer play an instrument, I was able to travel to Italy after all, and my teacher and friends helped push my wheelchair when I got tired.
As we approach the festive season, I am reminded of the many times, just like the school trip, when people's small gestures have helped make a BIG difference in my life.
This is why I feel compelled to write and ask for your help and support too. My family and I are extremely grateful to have a place like Leuchie House, which provides much needed respite breaks for people, like me and my family, who are living with the effects of long term conditions such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, Huntington's disease, Parkinson's, motor neurone disease and cerebral palsy.
Today, I no longer feel like a victim. I am happily married to my lovely wife, Joanna, and have two beautiful children, aged thirteen and eight.
My family doesn't see my as having a condition, just Neil or Dad. In fact, my chidren have crawled all over my wheelchair for cuddles over the years (although they might deny this as teenagers). And, my wife jokes that I'm the perfect shopping partner at Christmas because I can carry all the bags in my lap!
But due to the severity of my condition, there are times when our family needs a break. My wife has said that 'one less makes a huge difference' and at times, I know she means me too. Raising children is hard enough without the added responsibilities of being a full time carer.
Leuchie House allows my wife the chance to relax and recharge her batteries knowing that I am well looked after and receiving 24 hour medical care. And, it makes a BIG difference to her to know that I am happy. At Leuchie, I am not restricted to a hospital room or care home - I am able to socialise with other guests, treated to delicious home-cooked meals and enjoy choosing from a range of trips, activities and therapies.
During my last stay, I shared a room with another guest named Kenny and had such a good time. We spent the whole week sharing 'belly laughs' and are hoping to come back at the same time again in the future.
Your gift today, no matter how small you might feel it is, makes a BIG difference in the lives of families like mine. It will ensure the special people at Leuchie House are there for the 500 people like me who are able to stay for a respite break each year. I couldn't even tell you which member of staff is my favourite because they all play such a significant role in making Leuchie a home away from home.
It's not an easy task raising the money needed to keep Leuchie going each year. It costs £181 every hour for Leuchie to operate. That's why this letter has a simple request, from my family to yours - please make a special gift this Christmas and help families like mine continue to thrive and enjoy life, no matter what condition they might be living with.
With best wishes and thanks,
Neil Brown, Leuchie guest, loving husband and father of two
Thanks to the remarkable support and generosity of people like you, we are able to offer carers, and their loved ones living with a long term condition, the chance to get a break and recharge their batteries.
Your support makes all the difference to the hundreds of families supported by Leuchie each year, just like Neil's.
- Call us to find out more 01620 892 864