A Fife woman hopes her amazing fundraising exploits will encourage more people to find out about the rare brain disease which claimed the life of her husband.
Elizabeth Birrell, from Anstruther, is holding another of her famous coffee mornings later this month in aid of research into progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) following the death of her husband Ian at the age of 71 in October 2014.
She said: “Many doctors still don’t tend to know a lot about PSP so I think it’s very important to raise awareness that it’s out there and to look for the signs.
“There are a lot of people who do not know what to look for and there’s not a lot a known about it.”
Mr Birrell worked at the Craw’s Nest Hotel in Anstruther for 33 years and was a highly respected figure and honorary member of the town’s Rotary Club.
Before his death, he said he wanted to donate his brain and spinal cord to Queen’s Square Brain Bank in London in a bid to help others and boost research into PSP long after his death.
Mrs Birrell revealed the first sign of anything wrong came in 2008 when Ian was out caddying.
She said: “One minute he was standing, the next minute he was looking up at the sky, and I thought he might have just slipped but his speech started to go a wee bit funny as well.
“He went to the doctor and they told him to come back in a week. But things got worse and the doctors wondered if he might have had a slight stroke.
“The doctors maybe thought it was some sort of Parkinsonism, but then they eventually sat me down and said ‘I’m afraid it’s PSP’.”
Actor Dudley Moore and newspaper columnist Nigel Dempster are among the high-profile victims of PSP in recent years, yet many GPs are still unaware of the warning signs.
A neurological condition caused by the premature loss of nerve cells in certain parts of the brain, it begins with the build up of protein in certain areas of the brain and forms into clumps which are believed to damage the nerve cells.
Over a period of time, this can lead to difficulties with balance, movement, vision, speech and swallowing.
Around 4,000 people are believed to be living with PSP in the UK at any one time, and because symptoms are similar to other conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimers or stroke, misdiagnosis is also common.
Elizabeth has collected more than £73,000 for the cause close to her heart – and she hopes that another large turnout at the event in Pittenweem Church Hall from 10am on Wednesday October 24 will boost that total substantially.