Nicol and Claire, who live in Ardrossan, have four children; Chole (16), Jessica (12), Katelyn (10) and Cameron (4). The couple have been fundraising for MND Scotland ever since Nicol’s dad, Tom Taylor, was diagnosed with the progressive terminal illness in October 2015.
Nicol, who works in the shipbuilding industry, said “It was huge shock for the whole family. Dad had been having problems with his speech so we had all been looking to see what it could have been, but had never really heard of what MND was or what it did to the body. So, it was a bit of a blow to learn about the stages and to find out there was nothing that could be done yet.
“Two months after he was diagnosed he was admitted to have a feeding tube fitted, then in August 2016 he was given a ventilator to help with his breathing. He also had difficulty clearing saliva and had a suction machine.
“Dad was always very fit and healthy. He was an ex-royal marine for 16 years and loved hillwalking, cycling and running. He took part in various half marathons over a period of 30 years. The last one he ran was the Glasgow Half Marathon in August 2015, just two months before he was diagnosed. He also played football most of his childhood and up until the age of 30 he was with amateur clubs.
“After his diagnosis he was encouraged to keep up his fitness level as much as possible and he attended the local gym right up until the September before he died, when his arms and legs began to be affected.”
Tom, who was from Greenock, lost his battle with MND in November 2016 when he was 65.
Nicol praised the work of charity MND Scotland and the NHS, saying “MND Scotland were very helpful with arranging dad’s Disability Living Allowance and getting a Blue Badge for the car, which was a god send especially when attending hospital for check-ups. He also got grants from the charity to install a shower and toilet downstairs, and a ramp for the outside of the house. Although this only got installed when he was admitted to hospital with pneumonia before dying. He never got to use the ramp. He attended a couple of support group meetings locally too.
“The NHS were also a great support. He was given excellent care from his Speech and Language Therapist and Dietician. He also had lots of help from his Occupational Therapist and Physiotherapist with aids for the house.
“The journey was too quick but the help and support that was given by the team was great. It was a journey of emotions and my mum was the rock that held it together. My dad always had a great family bond and still always made us and the grand kids laugh through everything he had to endure. We all tried to help out with learning basic sign language which was fun itself.”
Inspired by Tom’s strength and positive attitude in the face of a devastating diagnosis, the family are now going to the next level to raise funds for MND Scotland. On the 14th September 2019 Nicol and Claire will be jetting off to China to walk the Great Wall with Nicol’s sister, Karen Taylor, and the Ayrshire couple will be taking part in the four 26-mile Kiltwalks across Scotland in 2018, in preparation. The first Kiltwalk is this Sunday 29th April in Glasgow, which will also see Nicol and Karen’s children, Cameron and Jessica, take part in the 6-mile route, along with Karen and her son Xander (8) and Nicol’s mum, Evelyn.
Claire said, “I want to continue to raise awareness about MND and to also raise funds for MND Scotland. I am part of the Lucy Lintott / MND Scotland choir and we released two singles with Michelle McManus. The whole family take part in MND Scotland’s Fun Runs; we organise all the family to get together and remember my father-in-law while raising funds. As a family we climbed Ben Nevis last year which was tough yet fun.”
Nicol added, “We all took part in the ice bucket challenge and my dad was laughing his head off when we were doing it. We’ve done lots of fundraising over the years but Claire and I wanted a challenge, so when we saw the Great Wall of China being advertised we had to sign up. We were already going to do the four Kiltwalks as a challenge in itself, having done just one last year. Now they will also be great training.
"We try to keep active and get the kids out as much as possible when the weather is fine. Cycling and walking are our family activities and have been since dad used to come up with a challenge each year, from walking ridiculous lengths or cycling trips. So we are doing these for him.”
Iain McWhirter, head of fundraising and volunteering at MND Scotland, said “Doing one Kiltwalk challenge is a massive achievement in itself, so to have signed up to all four, as well as the Great Wall of China is just incredible.
“I am so glad to hear that our team was able to help the Taylor’s during a very difficult time. It’s because of supporters like this that MND Scotland can continue to support people in Scotland affected, and fund vital research into a cure. We’ll be cheering the whole team on this weekend at Glasgow’s Kiltwalk.”
To donate to Nicol and Claire’s fundraising page visit: glasgowkiltwalk2018.everydayhero.com/uk/nicol.
If you want to sign up for a Kiltwalk challenge please click here. Kiltwalk dates: Glasgow (29th April); Aberdeen (3rd June); Dundee (19th August); Edinburgh (16th September).