MND nurse steps up to Great Wall of China charity challenge

Janice (second from right) will embark on the challenge next September.
Janice (second from right) will embark on the challenge next September.

An MND clinical specialist for Greater Glasgow and Clyde is stepping up to the challenge of a lifetime to raise funds and awareness for MND Scotland.

In September 2019, Janice Hatrick (57) will be taking on the Great Wall of China for charity MND Scotland, in memory of late MND campaigner Gordon Aikman.

The mum of two is a specialised Motor Neurone Disease (MND) nurse covering East Renfrewshire.

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.

Janice joined the team of Scottish MND Clinical Specialists in February 2016 after Gordon Aikman campaigned for, and secured, the doubling of MND nurses in Scotland.

Prior to this Janice worked in the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s neurology department and Ardgown Hospice, so already had experience of working with people affected by MND.

She said “With my experience in palliative care and neurology I felt this role was a natural progression for me. Two MND specialist nurses, Laura and Carole, regularly came onto the ward to visit their patients, so I would see the kind of work they did and thought it looked like something I would like to do.

“Naturally it can be a very rewarding job; anything I can do to make people’s lives a little bit easier is worthwhile.

“I feel very privileged to do my job. People let me into their homes when they have just been given life-changing news.

Janice will be taking on the challenging five-day trek with a team of 44 other MND Scotland fundraisers, who will get the chance to explore this ancient wonder of the world, while raising awareness and funds for MND Scotland.

For Janice the idea was sparked in June 2018 when she attended the Gordon Aikman Fightback Dinner in aid of MND Scotland.

She continued: “I was on my way to Gordon’s Fightback Dinner and was casually chatting to my colleague Laura about life in general.

“I mentioned that one regret in life I had was that I hadn’t travelled more.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have gone on many great holidays but never took up the offer to travel around Europe with my twin sister Linda when she asked me in the late 70s.

“Later that night Laura said – ‘Right okay, I challenge you to sign up for the Great Wall of China for MND Scotland. That can start you on you’re travelling.’

“And I did. Half an hour later I was up on stage singing my heart out to start my fundraising!

“Gordon Aikman was a huge inspiration for me. I am in awe of what he did when faced with such a terrible diagnosis. His work and tireless efforts have literally changed my life professionally and personally. He underpins it all.

“I am so grateful I got to meet and thank him personally. That’s one good reason for doing this trek for MND Scotland; in memory of Gordon and in memory of Linda.”

With less than a year to go before she jets off to China, Janice is gearing up to start her fundraising and training.

“I am just about to start my fundraising drive so any support from the local community would be great.

Janice said: “I am hoping to do some bag packs, a karaoke night and rope my friends and family into helping me reach my target, especially my daughters, Leigh Linda (28) and Kym (24), who have loads of great ideas too.

“I used to be quite fit actually. I have done a triathlon before and used to run a lot. At the moment I am just so busy – I’m a bit of a workaholic – so I haven’t had time to start training. I’ve got my walking boots and am wearing them at any opportunity to break them in, around the house and out walking with my grandson Lucas in his pram.

“I’ll need to start getting my steps up in preparation soon. I’m nervous but also really excited for what’s to come.”

Iain McWhirter, MND Scotland’s head of fundraising, said: “The work that Janice, and all of the other health professionals across the country do, to help people affected by MND is invaluable.

“All the money raised will go towards helping us continue to provide vital services for people affected by MND, and fund research which taking us a step closer to a cure.

“I’d like to thank Janice for taking on this immense challenge and for everything she is doing for people with MND in Scotland.”

To support Janice on her challenge you can donate to her fundraising page at Janice hatrick1