The Theory Of Everything star Eddie Redmayne has thrown his weight behind a moving new campaign for Motor Neurone Disease awareness month.
The 34-year-old actor, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of MND sufferer Professor Stephen Hawking, is championing the Shortened Stories campaign – which gives a voice to the real people whose lives have been, or will be, cut short by the disease.
Eddie, who is expecting his first child with wife Hannah Bagshawe, said the “incredibly brutal illness” is “one very close to my heart” as he introduced a poignant poem by young father and MND sufferer Robert Davidson.
He said: “I was delighted to highlight this beautiful video about Robert and his young family as it’s important to raise awareness of this brutal disease.
“I want as many people as possible to watch – and share – the video, so that understanding of MND will be greater in the future”.
Robert, also 34, who still works three days a week as a property lawyer, became a father for the first time to daughter Maya in January with wife Sariet.
He used to go to the gym four times a week with his wife and loved playing squash and football, but is now confined to a wheelchair and finds poetry his outlet.
Before he was “aspiring to be senior partner, with grandchildren sat on my lap.”
Now, he recites through his speech synthesiser, “Finally I am present, not guessing whether I will outlive the cat, without the futile fear of being trapped, looking no further than the horizon.
”I will not imprison today, with tomorrow’s cells, nor gift wrap caged memories, let later wait for the here and now.”
His diagnosis had taught him to “find beauty in between the cracks and feel majesty in the mundane”.
He said: “I want to share how my perspective has changed for the better through poetry.
“My daughter is adorable. My wife has been unbelievable. I’ve actually had a great year.”
MND is a fatal and incurable disease that attacks the nerves that control movement, so muscles no longer work. MND kills a third of people within a year of diagnosis, and more than half within two years.
Chris James, director of external affairs for the MND Association, said: “While Professor Stephen Hawking’s story is so very inspiring, the harsh truth is that most people with MND die less than two years after they’re diagnosed, and that’s a message this year’s Shortened Stories campaign is getting across very powerfully.
“With Eddie’s assistance and Robert’s wonderful video and poem, both specially recorded for our campaign, so many more people will realise exactly what a diagnosis of MND means.”