Orpington Motor Neurone Disease sufferer to take part in Great South Run in wheelchair

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 August 2018

Phil was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at 64. Picture: The Great Run Company

Phil was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease at 64. Picture: The Great Run Company


A five-time marathon runner from Orpington who had his life turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease will take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run in a wheelchair to raise awareness of the condition.

He had taken part in five marathons before he was diagnosed. Picture: The Great Run CompanyHe had taken part in five marathons before he was diagnosed. Picture: The Great Run Company

Brave Phil Rossall hopes to be able to stay alive until November to complete the 10-mile challenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

He will be pushed around the course in a wheelchair and will be joined by a team of runners from Run MND, an online group who take part in running events for the charity.

Phil was an active, healthy, 64-year-old and had taken part in five marathons in the UK and overseas before he was diagnosed with the condition, which currently has no cure.

He was given between 18 months and two years to live as the condition is always fatal, and has become reliant on a ventilator for breathing and the use of a wheelchair as his hands and legs have weakened.

Despite this, Phil is determined to do something positive and signed up for the Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday October 21 to raise £10,000 for the charity.

Phil, now 65, said: “I had been feeling a bit under the weather, I was getting slower at walking and when I was out running.

“Then a couple of years ago I collapsed and got taken to hospital.

“I thought they would look at the bump on my head but they did tests and found my breathing was short and I didn’t have much way of getting oxygen in or carbon dioxide out.

“Eventually, I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

“Normally you have on average two years to live after diagnosis. I was diagnosed in June two years ago, so I am already living on borrowed time.”

Phil soon decided there was no point in looking back or thinking about what he couldn’t do.

“I decided to go for things that I could still do,” he said.

“I am not one of these people who sit and do nothing, I am so lucky to have my wife Brenda who is very supportive.”

He got in touch with Run MND via the Facebook page and has been in contact with them for the last year.

He said: “10 miles seemed an ideal distance, so we all decided to take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run.”

Phil, a charity researcher, thinks that the event will be his last chance to play his part in the fight against the disease.

He added: “I was very active and very much an outdoor person. I used to go walking a lot.

“When I turned 50 I decided I would work for charities and wanted to start fundraising which led me onto running. I did my first marathon in 2010 and my last one was only in 2014.

“At present there is no cure and very little by way of treatment. MND care is basically palliative but the MND Association is able to help sufferers in so many ways. They are a fantastic cause to support.”

He said the charity has helped him personally through a contribution towards ramps, allowing him to get in and out of the house in his wheelchair.

“The event seemed the obvious one to do. I have friends in Portsmouth already and it seemed a great opportunity.

“My target is to stay alive until my 66th Birthday which is the middle of November, so we hope to have raised enough money to hit our target by then.

“The idea is for me to raise lots of money and research takes a long time. I won’t benefit from it but I am hoping that in five or 10 years’ time, other people who are diagnosed with MND will benefit and get better treatment or hopefully a cure.”

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