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Paisley poet takes top spot in competition

A Paisley poet picked up a top prize in a competition to highlight the impact of a devastating neurological condition.

Basia Palka was a winner in the ‘The light beyond the shadow’ competition organised by the Scottish Huntington’s Association to highlight the impact the degenerative condition, Huntington’s disease, (HD) has on families.

Basia has personal experience of the disease having seen it progress through her own family.

‘I was delighted to win this prize, anything that we can do to raise awareness of the impact this terrible disease has on families has to be seized. It is still surrounded by stigma and initiatives like this can only help sweep this away,’ said Basia.

Entries to the competition were received from all over the world and were judged by former Edinburgh Makar, poet, Valerie Gillies.

SHA supports HD families through a national network of specialists, a world leading youth support team and its financial wellbeing service.

HD is a complex condition with symptoms that typically begin to develop between the ages of 30 and 50. It causes three main groups of symptoms: changes to thinking processes – a type of early onset dementia, loss of muscle control and involuntary movements which lead to loss of speech and swallow along with mental illness. Those impacted by HD may eventually lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or make decisions and will eventually need 24 hour care. It is also hereditary with each child of those diagnosed at 50% risk developing the disease. There is currently no cure.

It is estimated there are around 1100 people living with HD in Scotland and up to 6000 potentially at risk. The competition was organised by SHA’s fundraising officer, Sally Poppenbeck.

‘The response we had was fantastic and our judge Valerie was very impressed by the the quality of entries, I’d like to thank her and everyone who took the time to submit, some of the pieces were very powerful in communicating the impact HD can have on families.’ To find out more about how to support people with HD contact HDscotland.org or call 0141 848 0308

The light beyond the shadow, by Basia Palka

Where did you go to
 when things of the mind
started to go wrong?

I looked for you 
but you had gone.

It’s as if Time
was slowly stealing you piece by piece and hauling you away 
into a vault somewhere
out of reach.

You did not fool me 
with your funny walk.

I knew you were there somewhere-within.

I kept looking out for you
 all along.
 And then one day, years and years on 
looking into your eyes as you took your last breath I found you -
 in my vaulted heart 
where Time 
had gently placed you.

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