An Edinburgh woman has been praised by a Scottish author and judge of SHA’s Writing Out Of The HD Shadow competition for shining a light on Huntington’s disease and the challenges faced by families.
Sheila Scougall, 72, penned a powerful 150-word prose, simply entitled Dad after being inspired by the strong relationship between a father who has the condition and his daughter.
Her piece explores the mixed feelings of patience, frustration and protectiveness felt by the daughter towards her father, and her outrage when a fellow diner wrongly accuses him of being drunk because they don’t realise that his behavior and movement are caused by HD.
Sheila’s piece won second place in the 2019 Writing Out of The Shadows competition, and she attended a ceremony at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh to receive her award from the charity’s Chief Executive John Eden.
Judge Maggie Ritchie, journalist and author of the novels Paris Kiss and Looking For Evelyn, praised Sheila’s work as a ‘compelling, honest and unflinching’ depiction of HD.
“HD devastates families across generations and leaves many people feeling isolated because there isn’t a great understanding about the disease or its symptoms,” said Maggie.
“SHA carries out vital work to improve the lives of families who are affected by HD, and I’m proud to support its Writing Out the HD Shadow poetry competition, a creative and innovative way to help raise awareness. It was a pleasure to read the amazing entries and I was blown away by the high standard of writing.
“I love Sheila’s heartfelt and intimate prose poem that enables the reader to see the effects of Huntington’s on a family from a child’s point of view, to feel the child’s compassion and anguish for the father – and the anger she feels on his behalf.”
For Sheila, a retired admin worker, creative writing provides an invaluable release from the responsibilities of being a full-time carer.
“Along with my faith and close friendships, writing is very important to me. I’m delighted that Dad has resonated so strongly,” said Sheila.
“People can be insensitive because Huntington’s disease is not a condition that is often talked about so they don’t understand. That’s why it’s so important that we do talk about HD and the impact it has on people and families.”