Charles, originally from Lincolnshire, moved to Scotland in 1995 to begin a new role as Museum Conservator at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh. He is the father of Jessica (14), Matthew (11) and Leah (8).
He was motivated to take on the 26-mile race in memory of his mother, Joan Stable, who died in 1982, and for his friend and colleague, Brian Melville, who died due to the illness in June 2018.
MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles. This may cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or breathe unaided.
Charles said: "My first encounter with MND was when I was 12 years old. My Mum, Joan Stable, was diagnosed in 1980, passing away just two years later in 1982.
“Following her diagnosis, she quickly became bed bound and increasingly paralysed. Eventually, she wasn’t able to eat, swallow or communicate. Communications aids were in their early days back then and one lasting memory I have is the time my mum had to use a children’s electronic toy to speak and spell.”
Charles’ mother had spent her life caring for the health needs of others, as a Midwife, a District Nurse and eventually a Health Visitor. When her own health deteriorated due to MND, she was cared for at St George’s Hospital in Lincoln.
“She was a very caring and kind woman, who loved to laugh. I felt angry that this cruel disease was taking my Mum. Losing a parent for any child has a massive impact.”
But Charles would have to go through the heartache again when, in 2017, a friend and colleague was diagnosed with the progressive terminal illness.
“I first met my colleague, Brian Melville, when I went to work at the National Museums of Scotland in 1995. Brian worked as Conservator for over 30 years until retiring in 2006.
“He was hugely experienced at his work and I learnt a great deal from him. After retirement we kept in touch, along with three other retired colleagues, meeting up for pints and a blether. Brian had a great sense of humour and told some terrible jokes. He was famed for his distinctive loud laugh.
“Brian was an active and fit sportsman, keen on golf and karate. We had already lost one of our retired colleagues to Prostrate cancer, so Brian's diagnosis was a massive bombshell. Having lost my Mum to MND, talking to Brian about his symptoms and the conversations about the prognosis for his future was hard.
“We were still meeting up with him up until Easter 2018. He was still mobile and was able to walk, but with difficulty, and he was losing weight. He died peacefully in his sleep just a few months later in June.”
Now Charles is gearing up to take on the London Marathon for MND Scotland, to help fund the charity’s MND support services, and to fund research into a cure.
Charles said: “During the period when Brian had received his MND diagnosis, I had recently taken up running and joined Musselburgh and District Athletics club, my local club.
“I was going to broach to him how he would feel if I did a run for charity, but I didn't get the chance to have that conversation. In September I decided to run the Scottish Half Marathon in aid of MND Scotland, raising over £800 from workplace donations and collections from friends and family via JustGiving.
“Shortly after the run I was drawn for the running club’s entry for the London Marathon. It’s an amazing club with amazing people and I can't emphasize enough how joining and running with Musselburgh and District Athletics Club has helped me over the past year.
“Getting drawn for the club’s London Marathon place was quite staggering and the icing on the cake. Apart from a from a bit of cycling, I wasn't really that fit when I started running last year. I could not have imagined myself running a half marathon – let alone a full one! I'm still pinching myself that I'm doing it.
“I started thinking for ways I could use the opportunity to raise more money for MND Scotland and in my training, and through talking to other people that are running for charities, an idea to run ‘Memory Miles’ came up.
“I’ve decided to dedicate one mile to my mum and one mile to Brian, but now I’ve asked the MND Scotland community to contribute 24 other names to add to my running vest in memory of those who have also passed away.”
Iain McWhirter, Head of Fundraising at MND Scotland, said: “I’d like to thank Charles for sharing both Joan and Brian’s experiences with Motor Neurone Disease. It’s important that we tell these stories to help raise the profile of this progressive terminal illness.
“At MND Scotland we provide care and support to people affected by MND, and fund vital research into a cure. We wouldn’t be able to do any of this if it wasn’t for people like Charles raising awareness and funds.
“I’m hopeful that, by sharing his story, we can help Charles find an additional 24 names for his Memory Miles for MND and I’m wishing Charles all the best for the London Marathon on Sunday 28th April.”
If you’d like to support Charles’s efforts, you can sponsor him at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/c-stable