A Preston man is planning a fundraising mission just months after his girlfriend died from Motor Neurone Disease (MND).Advertisement
Chris Duddy lost his girlfriend of 16 years, Keli, to the disease in September. Keli was just 44 years old.
Now maintenance manager Chris wants to spend 2020 raising as much money as possible for Royal Preston Hospital’s MND Treatment and Research Centre – including doing a skydive, despite being terrified of heights.
Speaking about the beginning of Keli’s illness, Chris said: “We were sat at home one evening in late November 2017, having a glass of wine, when Keli dropped hers. I jokingly said I would call the doctor. Keli laughed and told me to pour her another one. We didn’t think anything more about it until a few days later when it happened again.”
When a couple of weeks later Keli experienced a pain in her foot, Chris made her a GP appointment. She was referred to RPH and after seeing a consultant, was admitted for two weeks of tests.
Chris said: “Keli rang me at work saying they had her results but she needed someone with her to be given them.
“I went up to the hospital. We were taken into a side room with the consultant, who told us Keli had MND and had 18 months to two years to live. It hit us like a ton of bricks. Keli ran out of the room.”
The couple decided to play down Keli’s illness for the sake of their six children aged between 18 and 28 – Chris’ three from a previous relationship and Keli’s three also from an earlier relationship – and their four grandchildren aged two to six, who Keli spent a lot of time looking after.
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Chris said: “The MND team was brilliant. It tried everything to help Keli but after six months, she had lost the feeling on her right side.
“As a couple, our big thing was travelling. When Keli didn’t want to fly anymore, we got a camper van so we could still have long weekends away. Our last one was to Cornwall in the summer. Keli had a bit of a cough but we had a great few days.
“When her cough got worse, she was admitted into hospital and ended up there for six weeks. A nurse suggested Keli went to St Catherine’s Hospice, which she did for a time but Keli wanted to come home.
“On 10 September, I came home from work and Keli was sat up with the kids laughing and joking. She thanked them for coming, which was a bit unusual. That night, we chatted. She was really chilled. She woke me up at 3.10am to tell me she loved me and to ask for a kiss. When I woke up again at 6.24 am, she had gone.
“All the way from the day we found out about Keli’s MND and still now, the support from the MND team has been the most amazing anyone could wish for, which is why I am going to face my greatest fear – heights – by skydiving, and trying to help raise money in any way I can.”
As well as his skydive, which is scheduled for March, Chris and his family are planning a series of raffles, a January race night, a family fun day in April or May and an auction of sports memorabilia. To keep up to date with Chris’ fundraising or to make a donation, visit his Just Giving page.
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What do you think of Chris’ fundraising? Let us know in the comments.