There’s no lengths Gavin won’t go to in support of his mum and other families impacted by Huntington’s disease

PT instructor Gavin Keith had his long hair shaved off to raise money for two charities close to his heart – and his mum couldn’t be prouder of his kindness.

The 32 year old raised £1400 from family, friends and work colleagues which was shared between the Maggie’s cancer support charity and Scottish Huntington’s Association, the only charity in the country dedicated exclusively to people impacted by Huntington’s disease.

“I chose Maggie’s because my dad had lung cancer and passed away six years ago. I also take specific classes for cancer, cardiac and long-term health condition patients as well as delivering sessions for Maggie’s through my work at Fife Sports & Leisure Trust,” said Gavin, who lives with his partner Richard in Leven.

“But it was also very important to me that the donations were shared with Scottish Huntington’s Association as a thank you for supporting my mum Lesley who has Huntington’s disease.”

Huntington’s disease, which is caused by an inherited faulty gene, changes the brain and causes severe physical, mental and cognitive symptoms. These can leave people unable to walk, talk, eat, drink, make rational decisions and care for themselves.

The devastating toll on families is compounded further by the reality that each child of a parent with Huntington’s is also at 50/50 risk of developing the disease.

“My late grandma and my great aunt both had Huntington’s and their symptoms were very severe,” said Gavin. “My grandma could barely speak, she twitched constantly and her hands would wave about. Then when I was 21 my feet were fidgeting a lot and I remembered my grandma’s movements. I was worried it was the disease starting for me so I decided to be tested.

“When it came back negative we had real hope that Mum was clear too, which made it even harder to deal with when her result was positive.”

Man hugging his motherMum Lesley Currie is visited regularly by a Huntington’s Disease Specialist from Scottish Huntington’s Association for emotional and symptom management support. She was also referred to the charity’s Financial Wellbeing Service after losing her job in a jewelers shop as a result of the Covid pandemic.

“I’m proud of Gavin and was very moved when he told me how much money was being donated to Scottish Huntington’s Association,” said Lesley.

“It was Gavin who noticed the changes in me, especially my mood swings, before I was tested. Now my symptoms are more obvious. I drop cups of tea, my balance is affected and I’ve fallen down the stairs a few times. But the biggest change is to my mental health. I’ve been hospitalised because I’ve felt like I can’t take it any longer. I don’t want my family to see me going through what my mum and auntie went through.

“Having Nicola from Scottish Huntington’s Association really helps. I chat to her about anything and everything, sometimes we don’t talk about Huntington’s disease at all. Then there are the days when I talk about wanting it all to end. Nicola understands and knows what I need. Quite honestly, without her I don’t think I’d still be here.”

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