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Johnstons of Elgin supports families impacted by Huntington’s disease

Families living in and around Moray affected by Huntington’s disease have welcomed funding support from local employer, Johnstons of Elgin.

The luxury Cashmere and fine woollens manufacturer has selected Scottish Huntington’s Association: Moray Branch as its Charity of the Year for the second year running, meaning employees will continue to generate vital funds for the charity’s activities in the region.

Founded and run by locals whose lives are affected by the incurable neurological disease, the charity’s Moray Branch campaigns for improved services and care, in addition to providing a vital lifeline of social activities and networks for families. All money raised helps to meet group running costs and fund events, outings and other activities for members living in and around Moray. 

The group also works closely with Scottish Huntington’s Association, including inputting to the development of the world’s first National Care Framework for Huntington’s Disease and its localised versions. Scottish Huntington’s Association delivers lifeline services to families across Scotland through its network of HD Specialists, youth advisors and financial wellbeing advice.

Moray Branch member and Johnstons of Elgin employee of 38 years, Fran Gardiner, said: “Families depend on the Moray Branch, it’s good to meet people who are going through the same challenges. There’s no stigma and we talk about things with people who really understand. We moan, complain and support one another; everyone understands that some of us need to relieve the tension and talking helps. 

“In 2020 I nominated our Moray Branch as the Johnstons of Elgin Charity of the Year, and I was delighted when we were chosen. Together with my colleagues, we had lots of exciting fundraising events and activities planned for last year but things changed because of the pandemic. 

“Despite all the challenges, Johnstons of Elgin has been especially supportive, recently donating beautiful scarves with the Huntington’s disease amaryllis to help our fundraising efforts and extending our time as its charity of the year. The scarves have been selling really well. So far, we’ve raised £3500 and we hope to do even more this year. 

Fran, 57, lost her father Kenneth Smith to Huntington’s disease in 2009 and she has two sisters who also have the disease.

The complex symptoms of the disease include a loss of control over movement, reducing ability to walk, talk and swallow. It can also cause serious mental illness including depression and dementia. People with Huntington’s disease may go on to need 24-hour care, which means they are no longer able to stay in the family home.

The devastating toll on families is compounded by the reality that every child of a parent with Huntington’s disease is at 50% risk of inheriting the faulty gene that leads to the disease.

Head of Fundraising at Scottish Huntington’s Association, Lee Johnstone, said: “We thank Johnstons of Elgin, Fran and her work colleagues for their amazing efforts to support people with Huntington’s disease and their loved ones.

“As a small charity that is focused on delivering high quality care for families in communities all over Scotland, we are grateful to everyone who has invited their employers and staff to support our work by raising funds and awareness about Huntington’s disease.”

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