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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Chris Bonington to raise awareness of disease that killed his wife

Sir Chris Bonington has said he will do what he can to raise awareness of the disease that killed his wife.

Wendy and Chris Bonington photo
Sir Chris and Wendy Bonington at home

Wendy Bonington died from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) just two weeks ago just 18 months after being diagnosed.

Sir Chris, 80 yesterday, told the News & Star he would also be looking to help the care organisations, Hospice at Home and Cumbria Crossroads.

He said: “They gave equally fantastic support.

“The individual carers were absolutely wonderful and I wanted to show my appreciation.

“For the last six months of her life Wendy needed 24-hour care and there would always be one of the staff from either organisation with her.

“They’d be there for two to six hour stints and they came to love her dearly.”

In his eulogy at his wife’s funeral in Caldbeck, last Friday, Sir Chris described the way her health deteriorated.

“After the first shock, Wendy constantly showed such indomitable courage. She accepted how things were, never asked “why me?” or felt that it was unfair.

“She looked forward at how best she could deal with the circumstances she faced.

“As always, she researched diligently everything about the disease and how she could try to ameliorate or slow down its progress,” he said.

“She lost the power of speech quite early on in her illness but never the determination to communicate, initially through writing, but as she became weaker, through signs and a thumb up or down, for acceptance or dissent – and two thumbs – for that’s great. She always welcomed the steady stream of health professionals and carers that came into our house and showed a warm appreciation for what they were doing”.

Sir Chris is now planning a live edition of Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 programme In Our Time to be held in London, with the Wigton born presenter, to raise money for the MND Association.

“It’s an incredibly cruel disease, seeing its dreadful progression is horrible in someone you love.

“MND is a poor relation compared to cancer or MS. It’s comparatively rare so there’s very little investment in researching the causes or cure”.

Sir Chris is also hosting a lecture and dinner to raise funds for Hospice at Home in November.

He is full of praise for the NHS staff who helped Wendy.

“The support and care shown by the doctors, the surgery and the nurses was absolutely fantastic.

“And Wendy’s huge courage was clear to them, with her knowing what would happen.

“Even towards the end she was still always thinking of others, giving her helpers a sweet smile or a squeeze of their hand."

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