Jennifer and Mike face challenges of Huntington’s disease together

“Tackling the UK’s three highest mountains over one weekend is nothing compared to the challenges faced every day by people with #HuntingtonsDisease. When the going got tough, that reality spurred us all on to reach the top.”

Jennifer Paton, from Kirrimuir in Angus, is one of five fabulous friends who conquered Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England and Snowdon in Wales over three days to raise funds for Scottish Huntington’s Association. The ‘Kirrie Girls’ – Jennifer, Gill Ferguson, Dianne Scott, and mum and daughter Susan and Claire Dyce – were inspired to keep going by Jennifer’s husband Mike, who was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease eight years ago. Together they have now raised more than £14,000 – we caught up with Jennifer and Mike to chat about life with Huntington’s disease, how they cope and their fantastic fundraising.

“I feel a bit overwhelmed because people have been so generous,” said Jennifer. “We never expected such a great response and I had some really emotional moments during the climbs. I did get a wee bit teary but then I would pull myself together and be strong.

“It’s tough but I think that’s what Mike and I do when we think about his illness. We don’t dwell on it, we get on with our daily life.”

Mike was 53 when he was diagnosed. The test result confirmed what he already suspected; symptoms were beginning to emerge and Mike recognised the early signs all too well as both his late mother and his late sister had Huntington’s disease.

It meant giving up his job in the offshore oil industry and adjusting to the serious health changes that they both knew were ahead. Since then, Mike’s mobility and balance have deteriorated and his speech is gradually becoming more affected.

“Mike is a real inspiration to me and many other people because he’s a fighter through and through,” added Jennifer.

“We’re a real team, we’ve been married for 31 years and are together through thick and thin. Mike was diagnosed with testicular cancer in his 30s, he was extremely ill but he kept fighting on until he beat it.

“Huntington’s disease is a different battle altogether but every day Mike gets up and he tries his best. Every day. I took early retirement from the local nursery so we could spend our time together, and he has wonderful lifelong friends to go with for coffee and out to the pub. Mike’s very sociable and loves going out. I think he’s brilliant.”

Mike is just as proud of Jennifer, and her friends, for what they have achieved by raising so much money to help other people with Huntington’s disease and their families.

“Everyone has been really generous,” he said. “I’m so proud of Jennifer and very happy to have married the prettiest girl in Kirrie!”

*Jennifer and Mike are supported by an HD Specialist from Scottish Huntington’s Association. You will find out more about the nationwide services we provide for the HD community, including young people and families facing financial hardship, on our home page at


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