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UK & World

In Pictures: Stars come out to remember Stephen Hawking

March 31 2018

The funeral of Professor Stephen Hawking has been at a church near the Cambridge University college that was his academic home for more than 50 years.Renowned British physicist Prof Hawking died peacefully at his Cambridge home on March 14 at the age of 76.The cosmologist had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease in his 20s.


Parkinson’s discovery ‘may improve diagnosis for patients’

August 29 2016

Scientists are a step closer to developing a test for early-stage Parkinson's disease. A molecule linked to the brain condition can be detected in samples of spinal fluid, research has shown. The discovery may pave the way to earlier diagnosis of Parkinson's, improving treatment prospects. Parkinson's disease causes the progressive loss of neurons involved in movement, leading to uncontrollable tremors, rigid muscles and poor balance. An estimated 127,000 people in the UK have the disease, most of them over the age of 50. The test molecule is a protein called alpha-synuclein which forms sticky clumps known as Lewy bodies within the brain cells of people with Parkinson's and some types of dementia. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh used highly sensitive technology to differentiate between healthy and harmful forms of the protein. In early studies the technique accurately identified 19 out of 20 samples from Parkinson's patients, as well as three samples from people thought to be at risk of the condition. Dr Alison Green, from the National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said: "We have already used this technique to develop an accurate test for Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease (CJD), another neurodegenerative condition. We hope that with further refinement, our approach will help to improve diagnosis for Parkinson's patients. "We are also interested in whether it could be used to identify people with Parkinson's and Lewy body dementia in the early stages of their illness. These people could then be given the opportunity to take part in trials of new medicines that may slow, or stop, the progression of disease." The findings are published in the journal Annals Of Clinical And Translational Neurology. Dr Beckie Port, from the charity Parkinson's UK, said: "Parkinson's has no definitive diagnostic test - leaving an urgent need for a simple and accurate way of detecting the condition, particularly in the beginning stages. "Although early days, the fact that researchers have developed a new test that is able to detect abnormal alpha-synuclein in the spinal fluid of people with Parkinson's with remarkable specificity and sensitivity, is hugely promising. "Further research is needed to test more samples to see if the results continue to hold true, but this could be a significant development towards a future early diagnostic test for Parkinson's."

Perth & Kinross

Tractors Girls trundle through Perthshire

June 30 2010

A convoy of vintage tractors has passed through Perthshire as part of a 1000-mile fund-raising drive. Trundling along behind the wheel all the way from John o' Groats to Land's End are a group of brave ladies who have all had their lives touched by cancer or motor neurone disease. The Tractor Girls' epic road trip has already raised almost £100,000, to be split between four charities Cancer Research UK, Caring for Children with Cancer, the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Research Foundation. Eilidh Grieve from Aberfeldy helped organise the event, which is taking 13 days. She is driving a 1963 Mungalls of Forfar-made Super Dexta New Performance Mode tractor, which her father restored for her as a unique 21st birthday present. The Tractor Girls stopped at Blair Castle for lunch before continuing their journey south. Eilidh said, "The drive has been great fun so far, but we all know it will get tougher along the way. "Hopefully the money raised will go a long way to helping people affected by the diseases." She added, "It was great to pop into Blair Castle, which used to be my tractor's home." On completion of their journey the ladies and their tractors will board a ferry then drive the length and breadth of Ireland.


Motor neurone sufferer to meet Tayside health chiefs

August 4 2010

A seriously ill former Dundee fireman, who does not feel safe in Ninewells Hospital, is to meet Tayside health bosses next week. Alasdair McLeay (65), who has motor neurone disease, was given the meeting date late after The Courier intervened on his behalf. No one from the health authority had been in touch with him since his appalling story of a lack of care at Ninewells appeared in Saturday's edition. An NHS Tayside spokesman said last Friday that Mr McLeay and his wife Trudy would be contacted "as a matter of urgency." Before The Courier intervened again on Tuesday, there had been no contact with the McLeays. Mrs McLeay, a former radiographer at Ninewells, took early retirement to care for her husband who has to be fed through a tube in his stomach. The disease affects his muscle control and he cannot speak, communicating through handwritten notes. But after a catalogue of errors, Mrs McLeay felt forced to expose the lack of care on offer at Ninewells, saying she was ashamed to have been associated with NHS Tayside for 40 years. Mr McLeay spent three weeks in Ninewells in July after losing over two stones in 13 days. His wife was reduced to tears when a nurse called her in to the hospital suggesting her husband was dying, then laughed when she realised she had phoned the wrong relative about another patient. Nurses frequently addressed Mr McLeay using an incorrect name but, even more seriously, dispatched samples for testing inappropriately labelled. During his recent admission, Mr McLeay turned purple and began to shake uncontrollably while choking. An attending doctor went to find a piece of equipment and never returned. Mrs McLeay maintains he recovered thanks to a nurse, who phoned a specialist to ask how to treat a choking patient with motor neurone disease, and was advised to call in a physiotherapist as an emergency. "At this point I knew that my husband was no longer safe in Ninewells and that I had to get him home," said Mrs McLeay. When The Courier contacted Mrs McLeay on Tuesday afternoon, she said she had not been contacted by NHS Tayside. Shortly before the end of the working day, and after The Courier contacted NHS Tayside pointing out nobody from the organisation had been in touch with the McLeays, they were given a date next week when Gerry Marr, NHS Tayside's chief operating officer and Gillian Costello, associate director of nursing, will visit the McLeays at home to discuss their concerns. The health chiefs have allocated two and a half hours for the visit.

UK & World

Man bailed in M20 murder probe

February 23 2018

A man who was arrested on suspicion of murder after the body of a woman was found on the M20 has been released on bail.The body was discovered by police on the London-bound carriageway near Ashford at 6.05pm on Tuesday. The road was closed between junctions 9 and 10 for nearly 24 hours while the scene was investigated.Officers appealed for the driver of a silver Nissan Qashqai to come forward and a man handed himself in at a police station on Wednesday evening, Kent Police said.On Friday morning the force said the man had been released on bail until March 15.The circumstances surrounding the death of the 32-year-old from Kent remain a mystery and detectives are continuing to investigate.A post-mortem is expected to take place at midday on Friday.Police are still appealing for drivers who were on the road at the time to check their vehicles for signs of a collision, and for anyone with dash cam footage or who saw a Nissan Qashqai with the registration KY15 WWX at the time of the incident to come forward.

UK & World

M20 body identified as man arrested in murder probe

February 22 2018

Police have identified the body found on the M20 as a 32-year-old woman from Kent.A man arrested on suspicion of murder remains in custody, Kent Police said on Thursday afternoon.Officers discovered the body on the London-bound carriageway near Ashford at 6.05pm on Tuesday. The road was closed between junctions 9 and 10 for nearly 24 hours while the scene was investigated.Officers initially appealed for the driver of a silver Nissan Qashqai to come forward and a man handed himself in at a police station on Wednesday evening.The incident caused hours of delays with between six and seven miles of queues stretching back to junction 11 and a diversion was in place.The road reopened shortly before 3pm on Wednesday.An accountant from Ashford told Press Association of his shock at the scene he saw while driving on to the coastbound stretch of motorway at about 6.20pm on Tuesday while emergency services were on the opposite side of the road.The 21-year-old, who asked not to be named, said: “As I entered the motorway I expected to see a crash, when I suddenly realised that it wasn’t and unfortunately it appeared to be a body lying in the central lane with police and ambulance staff around it.“Because of the torches being shone by police (I could see) it appeared that the body had been struck by vehicles.“It was very shocking. It is not a sight I would want anyone to witness.“My condolences are with the family of the deceased.”Police are still appealing for drivers who were on the road at the time to check their vehicles for signs of a collision, and for anyone with dash cam footage or who saw the Nissan Qashqai with the registration KY15 WWX at the time of the incident to come forward.

UK & World

The social media campaign that threw motor neurone disease into the spotlight

March 14 2018

Celebrities who doused themselves with freezing cold water for charity raised money and awareness of the condition suffered by Professor Stephen Hawking.The Ice Bucket Challenge was one of the biggest social media campaigns of 2014 which led to millions of pounds being raised for motor neurone disease (MND) research.The children of Prof Hawking, who lived with MND for five decades before dying aged 76, took part in the challenge on his behalf.In a 2014 video clip, Prof Hawking is seen to say: “Because I had pneumonia last year, it would not be wise for me to have a bucket of cold water poured over me.“But my children Robert, Lucy and Tim gallantly volunteered to take the challenge for me.“I urge everyone to donate to the MNDA (Motor Neurone Disease Association) to eliminate this terrible disease.”Scores of famous figures including Tom Cruise, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Beckham, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift posted videos showing themselves getting a chilly drenching as part of the challenge.More than 17 million people reportedly uploaded Ice Bucket Challenge videos to Facebook.The campaign raised more than £87 million and funded six research projects.One of these has since led to the discovery of a new gene linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as motor neurone disease.Defective variants of the gene, NEK1, are only found in 3% of sufferers but are present in both inherited forms of the disease and “sporadic” cases without any family connection.Scientists believe the gene could guide them to the development of potential new treatments.The Project MinE study, which produced the discovery, was funded by US charity the ALS Association using money from the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Business news

Prestigious BP oil contract for Dundee project management training company

June 7 2017

Dundee-headquartered training provider 20/20 Business Insight has won a prestigious contract with one of the world’s leading oil and gas companies. The Broughty Ferry-based company, which also has offices in Aberdeen, London and the USA, has been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. Ironically, the prestigious account has been won after 20/20 stepped away from its previous focus almost entirely on the oil and gas sector – adding BP to a diverse client portfolio that now includes Wood Group, Centrica, Balfour Beatty, British Aerospace, Hinckley Point, Network Rail, Diageo and Wm Grant. Chief executive officer Tony Marks, who said the new status came off the back of recent big contract wins within the nuclear power industry, added: “20|20 are delighted to have been awarded preferred supplier status under a master contract by BP for providing project management training globally. “It’s a great team performance in demonstrating our international capability and upstream oil industry experience to win this prestigious account.” 20|20 Business Insight, which employs 26 staff and had revenues of £2.84 million last year, is a full service, project management, business and leadership training and consulting company who deliver training courses and consulting services throughout the world. It is the largest independent provider of project management training courses in the UK. The consulting team work with companies to analyse competence baselines and deliver maturity assessments, design bespoke and accredited training programmes, create handbooks and manuals, implement project management procedures and protocols and then measure and report effectiveness. Mr Marks said that crucially, they had the ability to deliver internationally-accredited training and consulting anywhere in the world, primarily in oil and gas, engineering and construction, utilities, nuclear, food and drink However, despite an international outlook, they remained proud to be rooted in Dundee. “We are big fans of Dundee and supporters of the Tay Cities Deal to bring jobs, including de-commissioning, to Dundee,” he added. “When we started in 2003, we were almost exclusively in the oil and gas sector before diversifying into other sectors. We were lucky because two years ago the oil and gas sector started to decline, and accounts for around 10% of the work we do now.” Mr Marks has been involved in business for 27 years and has seen four or five cycles based on the oil barrel price changing. During that period, the level of business has come back smaller each time. “So it’s quite interesting we are back in the oil and gas sector now,” he added. He said the BP deal had been going on behind the scenes for nine months and “should mean quite a jump in business for us.” He added: “It’s not a guarantee of any level of work. But the revenue should be significant and comes off the back of other big contract wins.”


Tayside MSP slams 20mph speed limit plans

September 27 2016

An MSP for the Tayside region has criticised proposals to lower the speed limit in residential areas from 30mph to 20mph. North East MSP Alex Johnstone spoke ahead of a Holyrood road safety debate, during which the Scottish Greens plan to raise the issue. Dundee City Council, which already has two 20mph streets, is currently collating the results of a consultation on whether to roll out the speed limit to other areas. Mr Johnstone said: “There is no question that in certain environments, like near schools, 20mph is entirely appropriate. “But the blanket roll-out of this has to stop. It will slow Scotland down and have no impact on road safety. “If anything, it will make those zones where slow speed is required less unique – and that could have a negative impact on road safety.” At a conference in Edinburgh, transport chiefs from all Scottish local authorities backed a default 20mph limit in an almost unanimous vote. Dundee City Council has not confirmed which way its representatives voted. A spokesman said: “Currently there are two streets with a 20mph limit in Dundee, Lothian Crescent and Harestane Road. “Approval has been given for two further areas with a 20mph limit. These will be implemented when the developments are completed at Mill o’ Mains & Western Villages. “A city wide consultation on the possible introduction of 20mph speed limit zones in residential areas of Dundee ended recently. “Responses to that consultation are being collated and analysed and a detailed report will be brought to the city development committee later in the year.” Transport Scotland has backed the 20mph plans, but has made it clear that decisions need to be taken on a local authority level. A spokesman for the organisation said: “Safety is an absolute priority and speed has been identified as a key priority area for activity through our mid-term review of the Road Safety Framework to 2020. “The Scottish Government is committed to reducing risk and protecting vulnerable road users such as children, pedestrians and pedal cyclists, and in 2015 published guidance for local authorities to help reduce speeds in residential areas. “The Good Practice Guide aims to ensure greater consistency on setting 20mph speed restrictions throughout Scotland, and encourages Local Authorities to introduce them near schools, in residential zones and in other areas of towns and cities where there is a significant volume of pedestrian and/or cyclist activity. “We believe decisions on urban speed limits are best taken at local authority level so there are no current plans to lower 30mph limit to 20mph on a national basis.”

Angus & The Mearns

Cherished shirt auction aims to raise MND funds in memory of Lichties boss John McGlashan

February 22 2018

A shirt presented to a rising football star by former Arbroath manager John McGlashan, will be auctioned to raise funds to boost research into motor neurone disease. Ex-Dundee player, John, a hugely popular figure, passed away in January after a short battle with motor neuron disease aged just 50, prompting an outpouring of grief and tributes from friends, players and fans. He began his professional football career at Montrose after signing from Dundee Violet and went on to play for a host of professional teams including Millwall, Rotherham, his favourite boyhood, Dundee and Arbroath, who he later went on to manage, becoming a fan favourite. John worked with youth charity Showcase the Street and a number of other youth projects, and also volunteered for Barnardos during a spell between clubs during his playing career, driving a minibus for children with disabilities. He played a pivotal role in the development of many young local footballers where he  could see the talent and potential in them, with Dundee defender Kerr Waddell being one of those fortunate players. John took Kerr from the Arbroath Lads Club U16s to train with the Dundee U16/17s. Kerr, now a 19 year old first team regular for Dundee FC was one of many young footballers mentored by John McGlashan at Arbroath FC, and he presented the shirt to the youngster when he won his first contract at Dens Park. Even when John left Dundee, he still kept in touch with Kerr’s father, Davie to find out about the youngster's progress at the club. Now, Mr Waddell is returning the cherished shirt to Arbroath FC to be auctioned off to boost the fundraising efforts of John McGlashan’s sister-in-law Kimberly Carr, who is running the Great Women’s 10km Glasgow race in June to raise money and awareness of Motor Neurone Disease Scotland. In addition to the shirt, Arbroath have included boardroom hospitality for two at the Arbroath v Ayr United match on March 3, where the winning bidders will be presented with the shirt by Kerr himself. A spokesperson for the club said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Kerr Waddell for the donation of his shirt. We know how cherished and treasured this shirt is to Kerr, and the memory it holds of John.” All funds from the winning bid will go to Kimberley’s fundraising for Motor Neurone Disease Scotland, with the closing date for the auction, 5.00pm on Monday 26 February. Bids are accepted by email via arbroathfcfacebook@gmail.com Further donations are welcome and can be made to Kimberley's Just Giving page.