Robert and Claire Moffat

My name is Robert. I am 43 and I’ve been with my wife, Claire for sixteen years. We have three children: Lucy, from Claire’s previous marriage, Ethan and Tanithe. Not only is Claire my wife, she is also my best friend and my full-time carer.

In the 1990s, I was a young joiner juggling work and college, socialising with friends and playing rugby as much as I could. And then, one day, I started going over on my ankle, often without warning, and I felt really embarrassed, but didn’t know why it kept happening.

After having a series of tests, I was told that I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I was only 18 years old. I had no idea what it was at the time and couldn’t believe how common it was in Scotland. My condition rapidly worsened and within six months, before I could come to terms with what was happening to me, I was in a wheelchair.

The MS was making me extremely ill – it was a very scary time. My mum and dad fought to get me the right treatment and got me the medication I needed, which I believe saved my life. The doctor said that I was lucky to see 19.

Over the next few years, I adapted to living with MS as best I could and, when I was 28, I got together with Claire. She has been a huge support ever since. Not only is she my full-time carer; she also runs our local MS Warriors group, which provides advice and support to families living with MS.

Having spent over 15 years working in care, Claire has plenty of experience, but that doesn’t mean caring for me doesn’t take its toll. As my MS has progressed, my eyesight has deteriorated so much that I am now registered blind and need Claire more than I did before, but it’s important to me that I don’t become a burden to her.

Like many people who have MS, I depend on physiotherapy for managing my symptoms and, for several years I benefited from going to intensive physio at the Lanfine unit in the Astley Ainslie Hospital. Between sessions, there was nothing to do but stare at the four walls for hours on end, which was getting me down.

And then, a couple of years ago I was told that due to cutbacks, I could no longer access the intensive physio I relied on. That was when Claire said “enough is enough” and started looking for other options.

It was then we heard about Leuchie and the physiotherapy offered there. I can honestly say that going to Leuchie is the best thing I’ve ever done – it has made a huge difference to both of our lives. I had no idea that Leuchie is the only place in Scotland offering a holiday and the specialist and long-term care required for people like me, living with a neurological condition like MS, MND, Parkinson’s and stroke, so I hope you will consider supporting Leuchie this Christmas to ensure this vital service continues to be here for families like mine.

On my first visit to Leuchie, I quickly learned what a unique place it is. I’ve made some great pals, have such a laugh when I am there and get access to physio and massage – basically I get well pampered! I enjoy the opportunity to go out for lunch and on trips around East Lothian. I know what a difference it makes when Claire can have a break and time to spend on her needs (especially with three children and seven pets!).

When I go to Leuchie, both of us get some breathing space, and we look forward to seeing each other after my holiday there. I’ve made some special memories and have a supportive group of people who understand what I’m going through. I look forward to every one of my visits!

We all know times are tough, and the team at Leuchie must work extra hard to raise the money needed to keep it running. It costs an average of £327 to fund a full night of respite for just one guest. That’s why whatever you can give, no matter how small you may feel it is, will support people like Claire and me.

There is no doubt that Claire is my shining star, so this Christmas, Leuchie is asking you to add a message to their 'shining stars' page to celebrate someone special in your life. You can either add a message directly to the page or download, print and return your star to be placed on Leuchie's Christmas tree, alongside others.

With thanks and season’s greetings,

Robert Moffat
Leuchie guest