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Tayside families gather for third bench unveiling

Families, staff from SHA and Rumbling Bridge Huntington’s Unit, and Councillor Michael Barnacle ready to cut the ribbon

The third Scottish Huntington’s Association 30th Anniversary bench has been installed – gifted by families across Tayside who are impacted by Huntington’s disease.

The unveiling at Balhousie Rumbling Bridge Care Home, near Kinross, follows earlier events led by families in Edinburgh, Lothian and Fife as part of the celebrations to mark the charity’s milestone year.

SHA Tayside Family Branch carries out fundraising activities and offers informal support to individuals and families affected by HD, playing a vital role in reducing the stigma that surrounds the disease.

The family members were joined by staff and volunteers from SHA, care home staff and local Councillor Michael Barnacle for the official unveiling on Friday, 17 May 2019.

The bench plaque is engraved with the SHA 30th Anniversary logo and the words: Donated by Tayside Family Branch, May 2019. 

Bill McLellan, Chair of SHA Tayside Family Branch, said: “We are very pleased to be able to donate this bench to mark the 30th anniversary of the Scottish Huntington’s Association, which provides a valuable service to families across Scotland.  We would like to thank all our supporters and volunteers who work so hard to raise funds to allow us to help improve the quality of life for those affected.”

HD is a hereditary disease that causes changes to muscle control and thinking processes, and can lead to long-term mental health issues. The average age of onset is between 33 and 45 and people with HD may eventually lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and make decisions for themselves, leaving many needing 24-hour care.   

Children of an HD parent have a 50/50 risk of developing the disease, for which there is still no cure.  

Today, there are 1100 people in Scotland with HD and a further 6000 people are at risk of developing the incurable disease. Because it is hereditary, HD impacts upon entire families over generations rather than on individuals alone.   

Across Tayside, SHA currently supports around 100 people affected by Huntington’s disease as well as their family members who may be carers or at risk of inheriting the condition. 

Paula Mcfadyen, Senior Huntington’s Specialist, said: “I hope that this very special bench, which has been donated by families across Tayside and dedicated to loved ones with HD, offers a quiet spot for visitors and residents to sit and relax for a moment or two.  

“As we recognise the 30th Anniversary of SHA, it is important to acknowledge how it has grown from a small, grassroots organisation to a national charity that delivers world-leading services and support here in Tayside and across Scotland. It was started by families affected by HD, and families remain at the very heart of all that we do.” 

Scottish Huntington’s Association (SHA) is the only charity in Scotland dedicated exclusively to supporting HD families. Its lifeline services, including a network of HD specialists, financial and wellbeing guidance and youth advisors, make the difference between families coping and not coping.  

Rumbling Bridge Huntington’s Unit, set within Balhousie Rumbling Bridge Care Home, supports up to 18 adults with HD. 

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