Campaigner in elite alongside Prof Stephen Hawking

Euan MacDonald is one of the hundred most influential disabled people. Picture: contributed
Euan MacDonald is one of the hundred most influential disabled people. Picture: contributed
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A CITY campaigner diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) has been listed alongside figures such as Stephen Hawking as one of the top 100 most influential disabled people in the UK.

Euan MacDonald was diagnosed with the debilitating condition in 2003, and has since devoted his life to supporting MND research and improving the lives of disabled people.

Along with dad Donald, he launched the Euan MacDonald Centre for MND Research at Edinburgh University in 2007, which seeks to boost studies into the condition.

The 39-year-old former investment banker was featured in the Business, Finance and IT section of the Power 100 list – the first of its kind to be published in Britain.

He said: “There are some really admirable people in the Power 100 list so I’m delighted to be included. I think the important thing is tackling the issues disabled people are ­facing just now.

“There are so many people across the country doing that, mostly unsung. I know the struggles I would have had without the support of other disabled people and carers, volunteers, charity workers, medics, nurses, friends and family. Although the list can’t be comprehensive it’s great to acknowledge a snapshot of that group.”

The father-of-two was diagnosed with MND when he was 29, bringing a halt to his high-flying London career as a city banker.

The rare condition occurs when parts of the nervous system become damaged, causing progressive weakness and muscle wasting. Symptoms begin gradually and become progressively worse, and there is no known cure.

But after moving back to the Capital to be with his family and settle into life as a dad with wife Liz, Euan was determined not to let his condition hold him back.

He has since travelled the world and launched website Euan’s Guide – an online resource for disabled people looking to explore the Capital’s pubs, restaurants and venues. The website provides detailed information on disabled access at venues and includes reviews and recommendations sent in by users.

“I do believe we will start to see meaningful treatments for diseases like MND. I don’t know if it will be in my lifetime but if people keep pushing, it will be a question of when not if,” he said.

“Likewise with disabled access. I think people are realising there is no need to accept barriers put in our way. Most of these barriers can be overcome with a bit of thought. There are some bad examples but also some really good examples where minor adjustments have improved access with great results.”

A spokesman for MND Scotland said: “We are delighted Euan has deservedly been included in the Power 100. He has previously been a trustee of this charity, is the driving force behind the Euan MacDonald Centre for Motor Neurone Disease Research, and Euan’s Guide is a fantastic resource for all people with disabilities.

“Euan’s condition has not stopped him from living live to the full, and also working to help others to live a life not dictated by their disability.” Other prominent people to feature on the Power 100 list include Stephen Fry, who struggles with bipolar disorder, and Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson – the TV presenter and former wheelchair racer. Topping the list is renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, pictured left, who was diagnosed with MND aged 22.

alistair.grant@edinburghnews.com