HIS courageous battle against motor neurone disease inspired fundraising of more than £500,000 for research into the devastating illness. And now Gordon Aikman has been honoured by his former university a year after his death.
The University of Edinburgh’s George Square Lecture Theatre – the largest on campus – is to be renamed in memory of the Business School graduate. Mr Aikman died from the debilitating disease in February 2017, aged 31.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, former prime minister Gordon Brown and ex-Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale were among hundreds of people who paid their respects at his funeral.
Mr Aikman was 29 and working as the research director for the Better Together campaign when he was diagnosed with MND in 2014. He focused his efforts on combating the degenerative disease and formed Gordon’s Fightback, successfully lobbying the First Minister to double the number of MND nurses through the NHS.
He also raised more than £500,000 for research to help find a cure for the terminal condition and was instrumental in the successful campaign to change the law so that people at risk of losing their voice as a result of a medical condition can access voice equipment on the NHS.
In 2015, the former student received an honorary doctorate from the University of Edinburgh and a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Both accolades recognised his charity work.
The move to rename the lecture theatre was proposed by the University of Edinburgh’s Student Union. A formal naming ceremony and plaque unveiling with Mr Aikman’s family and friends is to take place later this year.
Joe Pike, Gordon Aikman’s husband, said: “We are all very touched by the university’s very generous decision.
“It seems fitting that Gordon’s work as a campaigner has been recognised after a campaign by the student body he was once an active member of. And how wonderful that the lecture hall Gordon sat in aged 18 as a first year business student, will now bear his name.”
Professor Charlie Jeffery, University of Edinburgh senior vice-principal, said: “Gordon Aikman was a tenacious campaigner. By striving to change the quality and funding of care and research, he helped to improve the lives of people living with MND and was an inspiration to many. We are delighted to honour his remarkable achievements in this way.”
Mr Aikman, from Kirkcaldy in Fife, saw his Fightback campaign win the 2017 Scottish Charity Award in the People’s Choice Award, which was decided by a public vote.
Following his death, Ms Dugdale, who had been a close friend of Mr Aikman, said: “Gordon gave us all something so special. He gave us his friendship, his courage and the determination to make things better for those who follow.
“He did so much good in such a short space in time.
“We miss you terribly but pledge to honour your life in how we now choose to live ours – to savour every day.”