Neighbours from Lanarkshire who danced in the street every morning for 100 days during lockdown are set to top their amazing feat – by performing 100 DANCES IN ONE DAY in support of families living with Huntington’s disease (HD).
The daily dancers from the Poplars estate in Lanark are sending the special message of solidarity to the HD community to celebrate the 51st birthday of mum-of-three Gillian McNab, who has the gene that leads to the incurable disease.
All money raised will be donated to the Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA) and the event on Sunday, 2 August will serve as the grand finale of the charity’s coronavirus crisis appeal, Stay Home and Step Up.
Gillian, a staff nurse in a hospice, said: “I’m touched that my neighbours have chosen to dedicate this incredible dance marathon to families living with Huntington’s disease.
“It’s amazing that we reached 100 days of dancing and now we’re very excited to take on a new challenge. Dancing for 100 songs all in one go isn’t going to be easy, but we’re determined to do it. I can’t think of a nicer way to spend my birthday than dancing in the street with my lovely neighbours, family and friends.”
The daily sessions began at the start of lockdown, organised by resident Julie Main, and everybody in the estate was welcome to join in the socially-distanced routines.
“It was a fun way to stay connected, exercise daily, while helping each other through these very tough times” said Julie.
“We ended it on a real high on the 100th day, having built an amazing community spirit. After that, we were left with a real void, and were looking for a reason to dance.”
Neighbour Karen MacDonald added: “Dancing is a big part of Gillian’s life, and her positive attitude and determination to make the most of every moment is inspiring. We know she dedicates a lot of her time to volunteering with SHA, and so we wanted to support her with this – and no better time to do so than on her birthday!”
Huntington’s disease is an incurable genetic condition with severe physical and mental symptoms. These include uncontrollable jerky movements that can progress to a loss of ability to eat, drink, walk and talk. This may be accompanied by mood swings, personality changes and serious mental illness.
The dreadful toll on families is compounded by the reality that each child of an HD positive parent is at 50% risk of inheriting the faulty gene that leads to the disease.
Gillian lost her mum to HD, and knows that she too will develop symptoms at some stage. Until then, she is determined to live life to the full and continue volunteering as a speaker and fundraiser with SHA.
“I am so, so grateful to be turning 51 and still feel fit and well, but I know there will come a time when that will change. I’m determined to pack in as many exciting experiences as possible, and do what I can to be involved in research and raising awareness about Huntington’s disease and how it affects people,” said Gillian.
“I get so much out of volunteering with SHA, it adds an extra sense of purpose to my life, especially when there are so many people who have never heard of Huntington’s disease.”
As the only charity in Scotland dedicated exclusively to supporting the HD community, SHA delivers lifeline services through a network of HD Specialists, youth advisors and financial wellbeing officers.
The Stay Home and Step Up coronavirus crisis appeal was launched in response to the cancellation of volunteer and SHA-led fundraising events, adding to uncertainty over funding at a time when vital services were being stretched as a result of the pandemic.