Being dad again

Five years ago I was working as an electrician and doing sports commentary on local radio at the weekends. We had no children, enjoyed regular holidays and were pretty carefree. Life was 'normal'.

" It was the most magical holiday that we have ever had and has made it possible for Martin to be the dad he has always wanted to be...Words just aren't enough to tell you how much this holiday meant to us and what it did for us as a family. "

Gillian, Martin's wife

One day at work I was filling in a form when I had trouble writing. A couple of weeks later I got cramp in my hands while I was eating dinner. At first he thought I had a trapped nerve but even after a barrage of tests came back negative I knew something was wrong. Eventually I was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

The specialist told me I'd be paralysed within two years. It was a massive blow. I can only describe it as like being on an aeroplane that you know is going to crash. Once the news had sunk in I put all my energy into finding out what medical help there was available. I tried various alternative therapies and felt that being positive about the future was the only way forward.

I go to a hospice two days a week and it was there I was told about Willow. When we looked at the types of Special Days other people had had we immediately chose a short break. A holiday would mean so much more to us than just a few days away and we knew we would enjoy looking forward to this one like we used to before my diagnosis. We couldn’t wait to spend some quality time together. In the weeks leading up to Special Day the trip we planned the activities we'd do while we were away. And on the darker days, it was a real boost to look forward to the date in the diary.

Our three year old son, Jack, was especially excited to go on his first ever family break. Willow sent us to a holiday park in Whinfell Forest. It was great not to have too far to travel and when we got there everything was absolutely perfect. Because of the setting, I could do so much that I couldn't do at home. With no cars around, I took Jack out to play on my own and being on one level in the chalet meant I could watch him enjoy bath time and even read his bedtime story. My parents also came to visit us for the day which enabled me to go swimming with Jack – another rare treat. Our time away has brought Jack and I closer together, giving us the chance to do so much together and a taste of some independence for me. The whole family loved every minute of it. Every Special Day aims to provide beneficiaries and their loved ones with a break from the realities of their diagnosis and treatment. At a time of uncertainty, spending quality time with family and friends can help restore a sense of normality, boost confidence and create positive and precious memories for the future.

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