“He gives me social interaction and company”

Marie Curie is delighted to have been chosen as one of six charities to benefit from ITV’s Christmas fundraising appeal, Text Santa. The appeal will help fund the expansion of the Marie Curie Helper Service, which currently operates in ten regions across the UK. With the help of Text Santa donations, we will open six brand new services in 2015 and will be able to help many more people like Kevin. The Text Santa show airs on ITV tonight from 8pm - be sure not to miss it! 

Kevin Williams was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) at the age of 31 and has seen his physical abilities deteriorate over the last 5 years. Today he is unable to leave home without help and so looks forward to his weekly visits from Marie Curie Helper volunteer Leighton Garrett. 

 For Kevin, the first sign that something was wrong was when he noticed his hands were twitching and there was a weakness in his arms. The diagnosis of MND came as a shock. Kevin says, “It was quite a lot to take in as a young guy in my 30s, to be told that my muscles will eventually die and that I would lose all my voluntary movements, my speech and my breathing. It is quite a difficult thing to comprehend.” At the time Kevin, who is originally from South Africa, was working in London as a chef and had just met his future wife Lorraine. “Life was good. It was a pretty big shock and a lot to absorb, to know you will lose most of your independence. There are elements of feeling trapped. You have to accept you are never going to be what you were 10 years ago.”

 "It can be lonely"

 Today he needs assistance with eating, drinking, showering and getting dressed. While not in a wheelchair, he is not confident enough to go out on his own as he worries about falling. Kevin and Lorraine moved to Dorridge in October 2013 to be closer to Kevin’s sister and her family, but Kevin has found it hard to make friends in their new area. Lorraine, a nurse at Nuffield Hospital, works three long days a week, from 7am to 9pm. A carer visits him three times a day but these are short visits to provide basic care.  “When Lorraine goes to work, I am pretty much on my own,” Kevin says. “It can be a lonely experience and there is not a lot I can do on my own. TV is the highlight of my day. I watch a hell of a lot of sport, cricket and rugby in particular.” 

Someone to talk to

 Kevin was referred to the Helper service when attending the West Midlands Marie Curie hospice for physiotherapy, and thought it would be a good way to meet someone near his own age to alleviate the loneliness when he was on his own at home. Leighton, a stay at home father of three, has been visiting Kevin for the last four months. They share an interest in sports and will often watch TV together and chat. Kevin says, “I don’t have friends here and there isn’t really the opportunity to make more friends. So with Leighton, I get a bit of company. It means I have some social interaction, someone to talk to outside my immediate family.

He is fairly easy going and it’s mentally stimulating having him here, just someone different to talk to.” Leighton says he is led by Kevin in regards to what he wants to do during their time. “He likes to be home based, so we sometimes just sit and watch football. We get on well.” While Kevin has a lot to cope with, he is keen to think positively and look to the future. “I have a lot of good in my life, like having a lovely wife, hopefully having a child. There is no point in depressing myself, I try to make the most of today.” Visit our website for more information about Text Santa and how Marie Curie and people like Kevin will benefit.