Mintlaw nurse takes on marathon for Peterhead football star living with MND
A Mintlaw nurse is taking on the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon for her cousin-in-law and former football star Martin Johnston, who is living with motor neurone disease (MND).
Abbie Taylor (24), who at the age of 11, was a bridesmaid when her cousin Jenny married Martin, now lives in Aberdeen, and works as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
Abbie and her family were left stunned in August 2018 when dad-of-two Martin (42) – a former Cove Rangers, Peterhead, Elgin City and Brechin City striker – was diagnosed with MND.
She said: “Martin’s diagnosis came as a massive shock to us all, with him being so young and active we could hardly believe it.
"I was aware of MND as a disease with being a nurse, but my knowledge was fairly limited until Martin was diagnosed.
"His diagnosis made me very much realise that MND can affect anyone, regardless of anything else.”
Martin, who is dad to Calum (12) and Sophie (8), said: “I have had slow progression so far, mainly affecting my legs. Walking is difficult and I’ve had a few nasty falls.
“Before I was diagnosed, I’d been noticing problems with my leg for a couple of years. It just wasn’t working properly and I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was just a subtle difference.
“It was one night I was sat on my bed on my iPad, I noticed my legs were twitching away.
"As you do, you go into Google and type it in – straight away it came up with Motor Neurone Disease.
“It was very tough at the time of diagnosis, but now I have a positive mindset and am determined to fight it all the way.”
Since his diagnosis, Martin and his family have continued to fight back by raising funds and awareness for the cause.
To show her support, Abbie will be stepping up on Sunday, October 3, to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon, to raise funds for MND Scotland.
Abbie said: “The London Marathon has been on my ‘bucket list’ for many years. I had entered the ballot for the past few years but was unsuccessful.
"I had noticed on social media MND Scotland had a spot and decided to go for it. I am so pleased I have now been given the amazing opportunity to finally run for a brilliant charity that is so close to our hearts as a family.
“Admittedly, I am not an avid runner, but having been more active than usual earlier in the year for another charity event, I thought I would try and push myself this year.
"I’m really excited to get started, and I’ve managed to rope Martin’s wife, Jenny, in as a running partner!”
Martin said: “I’ve had lots of assistance from various people at MND Scotland, getting help and advice on accessing services and support.
"We also received a grant to help towards installing a ground floor wet room into our new house as stairs were becoming difficult for me to manage.
"So, I was delighted to hear Abbie had been chosen to represent MND Scotland at this year’s London Marathon.
“She has already done so much for MND charities since my diagnosis, which I am hugely grateful for. This is the biggest challenge so far, but I know how determined she is to do her best for MND Scotland and all the families that are affected by MND. We are all very proud of what she is doing."
Abbie added: “I hope to raise as much money as I can to aid MND Scotland in finding effective treatments for this awful disease, as well as continuing to care and support to those affected.”
Iain McWhirter, from MND Scotland, thanked Abbie for choosing to support the charity at this year’s London Marathon.
"This cause is clearly very close to her heart, and I’m so glad we have been able to provide support to Martin and his family during this time,” he said.
“No one should have to go through MND alone, and without amazing fundraisers like Abbie, we simply could not continue helping families living with MND in Scotland, or fund the pioneering research which is taking us closer to that cure.
"Good luck Abbie – we'll all be cheering you on!”
If you would like to support Abbie’s London Marathon challenge you can donate to her JustGiving page: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AbbieTaylor6/1
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.
This may cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink or breathe unaided.
There is currently no cure or effective treatment for MND and the average life expectancy from diagnosis is just 18 months.
There are around 400 people in Scotland currently living with MND.