TRIBUTES have been paid to Motor Neurone Disease campaigner, Gordon Aikman, who has died at the age of 31.
The former Labour adviser was diagnosed with the terminal condition in 2014 and launched Gordon’s Fightback, successfully lobbying First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to double the number of MND nurses and fund them through the NHS.
He also raised over £500,000 for research to help fund a cure for the muscle-wasting disease.
He received a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours and an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh University for his work to transform care for people with MND and efforts to find a cure.
Mr Aikman, who lived at Meadowbank, married political journalist Joe Pike at a ceremony in the Capital in 2015.
In a statement, his family said: “We are heartbroken. Gordon was beautiful, kind, funny and utterly determined. He achieved more in the few short years after his diagnosis with MND than many of us do in a lifetime.
“Gordon’s campaigning and fundraising has truly inspired people, changed lives across Scotland and we are so proud of him. We will miss him terribly.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said she was “utterly bereft” at the news.
She said: “Although we all knew time was precious, Gordon’s death comes as a shock.
“I have lost a best friend and the world has lost a man who made it a better place. The wedding of Gordon and Joe was one of the happiest days of my life.
“I will miss Gordon’s smile, his laugh, his energy, his brilliant dance moves and terrible singing voice, and his positive outlook on life despite the hand he was dealt towards the end.
“I will miss his advice and I will miss campaigning with him to advance the causes dear to us.”
Mr Aikman was just 29 and working as the director of research for the Better Together campaign when he was diagnosed.
Craig Stockton, the Chief Executive of MND Scotland, said: “Everyone at MND Scotland is deeply saddened to hear of Gordon’s passing.
“Although Gordon was diagnosed with a terminal illness, this has still come as a shock to us all. I feel privileged to have known Gordon and to have worked alongside him on MND Scotland’s Board of Trustees.
“In the face of a devastating diagnosis, at the age of just 29, Gordon turned his grief into a drive to fight for the rights of others affected and to fund a cure.”
Mr Stockton added: “In addition to his campaigning and fundraising efforts, Gordon has played a pivotal role in raising awareness of MND and the daily challenges people with the illness can face, through his own personal experiences.
“Gordon raised over £500,000 for MND Scotland which has been invested into cutting-edge research to find a cure.
“Gordon Aikman has been an inspiration to so many people across Scotland, not just to those affected by MND, but far beyond that.”