Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Recently bereaved family want ‘to give something back’ with charity fundraiser

 This Saturday 25th May at 8pm in Newtownhamilton Rural Community Hall, a fundraiser will be held in memory of Stephen Lines.

Stephen tragically died of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in March this year, and the event is being organised both in his honour and in aid of two charities which helped Stephen and his family immensely during their time of need.

Tammy Lines is Stephen’s wife, and she told The Examiner about the financial and emotional support that her family received from the Southern Area Hospice and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

“Stephen had three days of respite in the Southern Area Hospice. That was actually where he died in the end. It wasn’t his plan; he was in for respite and he just passed away very suddenly. So they have been very good to us, offering support to the kids in addition to the respite for Stephen. The MND association have also been great over the last three years. They have been emotionally supportive and financially supportive as well to us, so it has been a big help.”

This will be the second fundraiser that Tammy has organised in memory of Stephen and she wants to raise as much awareness of the disease as she can. She said: “A lot of people in the area already know about motor neurone disease because of the first fundraiser but hopefully this event will raise a bit more awareness about what it is.

“It can affect anybody; it’s mainly older people who get diagnosed, but it can affect young people too. Motor neurone disease is a rare neurological disease. It affects the motor skills, which is why it is called motor neurone disease.”

Tammy spoke candidly about the effects the disease had on Stephen: “The person will slowly lose movement in their body; with Stephen it started on his left side, he lost the movement there and then it went to his right side. By the time he died he had very little movement left in his body at all. He could move his right hand a wee bit and that was it.

“It also affected his breathing; he couldn’t breathe unaided because the muscle in his lungs just weren’t strong enough. It also affected his swallowing, so people with motor neurone disease sometimes have to have a PEG fitted so they can have tube feeds and Stephen had that as well.”

In a short space of time, the disease took control of Stephen’s body, but he valiantly fought it for as long as he could. Tammy said: “So in three years, Stephen went from being fine, standing on two legs, to being confined to bed, couldn’t do anything, couldn’t breathe for himself, couldn’t eat. It just completely stole everything from him. There is no known cause of it and there is also no cure. Most people who are diagnosed don’t tend to make it past the two year mark but Stephen made it to three.”

The fundraiser this Saturday night will help Stephen’s family to fulfil his wish of giving back to the charities that have been such an invaluable aid over the past three years.

“It is very important to have these nights, it is what Stephen wanted. We just want to carry out what he wanted. So it’ll be great to see the association and hospice benefit from this night and to give back as well to the two charities that helped us so much throughout the three years,” Tammy added.