Sisters take on MND run in memory of grandad

The Gray sisters - Natalie, Camille, Ellie and Jillie - are ready to run. Picture: Neil Hanna
The Gray sisters - Natalie, Camille, Ellie and Jillie - are ready to run. Picture: Neil Hanna
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FOUR sisters will hit the ground running for a charity race in memory of their grandfather, who died earlier this year after a three-year battle against motor neurone disease (MND).

Natalie Gray, of Prestonpans, will join her sisters Ellie, 16, Jillie, 13, and nine-year-old Camillie for the MND Scotland Fun Run on Sunday in honour of their grandfather Emil Galazka – known as Gunn to his 11 grandchildren.

There was always a smile on his face no matter how hard the day was for him

NATALIE GRAY

The tight-knit family were devastated when Gunn was diagnosed with MND – a neurological condition which affects the signals between the brain and the muscles – three years ago.

Natalie, 25, said: “Over the course of the year I could personally see my grandad go from the strongest man I have ever met to the weakest.

“Even though he fought and fought to make sure he would stay independent and able to live his life, we all saw a massive change in him and the way he did things.”

MND symptoms can include paralysis, loss of speech, impaired eating and drinking and breathing difficulties. From diagnosis, average life expectancy is 14 months.

Over the following months, the family watched desperately as Gunn lost the strength in his legs and hands, before losing his speech.

But instead of giving up, Gunn learned to communicate by typing on his laptop using his feet so he could keep making his grandchildren laugh with his witty conversation.

Natalie, who works at the Royal Bank of Canada, in Haymarket, said: “Our Gunn never showed his struggle or the pain he was going through.

“There was always a smile on his face no matter how hard the day was for him.

“His grandchildren were his life. Right until the end he always made sure they were his number one priority.”

Gunn died earlier this year aged 66, surrounded by his family, including his beloved wife Liz.

Natalie said: “It has left a huge gap in my family’s life, but the memories he left behind are priceless.

“I know a part of Gunn lives on in all of us, and we know he is the brightest star in the sky.”

The girls have thrown themselves into fundraising in his memory and they will join hundreds of runners for the 5km fun run, which kicks off at 11am at the Parade Ground in Holyrood Park.

Gemma Bradley, communications officer for MND Scotland said: “We depend on people like Natalie and her sisters taking part in fundraising activities and raising awareness of MND – without them, MND Scotland and the services we provide would not exist.”

To join in Sunday’s run call MND Scotland on 0141-332 3903 or just turn up.

lizzy.buchan@edinburghnews.com