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Aberdeen pilot loses ability to fly after MND diagnosis

Colin Jones (60), from Aberdeen, tells us about his experience of MND and how he has had to give up his life-long passion of flying.

Aberdeen pilot loses ability to fly after MND diagnosis

Posted : 19/06/2017

Colin Jones (60), who lives in Aberdeenshire, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in January 2016. For MND Awareness Week 2017 (19th – 25th June) Colin shared his story to raise awareness of the illness and the impact it can have on families across Scotland.

Colin was born and raised south of the boarder in Bebington, Wirral. He met his wife, Shirley (59), a retired nurse, when he was just a boy. The pair grew up a few doors away from each other as children and their parents were family friends.

Colin joined the R.A.F when he was 16 years old and here he found his passion for aviation. A few years after joining Shirley and Colin got together. The couple now have three children Paul (37), Derek (35) and Stephanie (28), as well as two grandchildren, Rebecca (15) and Isabelle (1).

Colin and Shirley moved to Aberdeenshire in 1987 when Colin left the RAF and was offered a new job in aviation. He worked there in the helicopter industry, most recently as Head of Ground Operations at one of the world’s largest helicopter operators, for 29 years, before retiring in October 2016 due to his diagnosis of MND.

He said “I first started noticing symptoms back in 2014. It began with arm muscle ache and fatigue. After many tests and appointments I received my diagnosis about 18 months later. The diagnosis was devastating but almost inevitable given the path of testing, and has certainly changed my life and that of my family.

“When I decided I had to retire I was reluctant, saddened and pleased simultaneously. I was a workaholic because I loved my job but I just wasn’t doing it justice anymore with my symptoms worsening. I had felt for a while it was time to stop working and I wanted to focus on spending more time with Shirley and my family. So, it was a relief in a way when I finally made the decision.

“Since my diagnosis my symptoms have progressed; my limb muscles suffer with severe cramping and twitching, causing weakness and general disability.

“The most difficult things for me have been my personal loss of control on the journey through life, my loss of independence, and the emotional stress and distraction from normal life this has caused my family. It has been very difficult and stressful at times for everyone.

“I am lucky to have such a wonderful family and love spending my time with my wife, cooking together and looking after my grandchild, Isabelle. I also still have a great passion for aviation.”

Colin went onto to talk about the support he has received from the charity MND Scotland, “I go to MND Scotland’s support group in Aberdeen with Shirley and our daughter Stephanie. Here we have met other sufferers in a similar situation. The group provides very caring, professional, practical, emotional and organisational support.

“We have also received financial assistance in the form of a grant. In August we are going down south to visit my brother, who is a pilot, so I can do some flying while I’m still able. We are very grateful to MND Scotland because the grant we received from them will go towards funding this trip.”

This MND Awareness Week Colin decided to get involved and raise awareness of the illness and the charity, “I am sharing my story to help raise awareness of MND, the importance of early diagnosis, and to highlight the help provided by MND Scotland.

“I have been fortunate to become involved in the GTAC research programme in Edinburgh, which strives to determine a clearer path for the treatment of MND, and has also given me an opportunity to repay the debt I owe to all those involved in MND support and other sufferers.”

This MND Awareness Week you can support our Thunderclap campaign which will post a message of support on your social media pages and you can update your social media profile picture with our ‘Twibbon’. You can also donate to MND Scotland below or donate £5 by texting CUREMND to 70660.

 

Photo Credit: Michal Wachucik, Abermedia

quote marks

“The most difficult things for me have been my personal loss of control on the journey through life, my loss of independence, and the emotional stress and distraction from normal life this has caused my family.”

Colin Jones

Colin Jones