Gavin Williamson welcomes MNDA to Parliament

Gavin Williamson MP for South Staffordshire was delighted to co-host the Motor Neurone Disease Association's private view of their Incurable Optimism exhibition which was held in the House of Commons this week alongside Karl McCartney MP. 

The Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association’s message of Incurable Optimism has reached the House of Commons thanks to the art of the first incurable optimist - Patrick Joyce.

Patrick Joyce, also known as Patrick the Optimist, fronted chapter one of the Association’s “Incurable Optimism” campaign in 2010 and set himself the challenge to paint the portrait of 100 incurable optimists while he could still use his arms. Through his portraits, Patrick put the spotlight on many unsung heroes, each dedicated to doing everything they can for those living with MND. 

Patrick’s portraits are now on display at the House of Commons and the Association hopes that parliamentarians visiting the exhibition will be encouraged to do something optimistic and join its fight against MND.

A private view of the exhibition was held on Wednesday 30 November where ministers, peers and MPs met with Association representatives and heard how vital it is for people with MND to have access to quick and effective wheelchair provision. 

Alistair Banks who is fronting chapter two of the Association’s Incurable Optimism campaign attended the event. He explained to guests how his wheelchair has maintained his independence in the face of the disease. He spoke passionately about the need for the Government to work closely with the Association so that everyone with MND has access to an effective wheelchair, no matter where they live.

Both Patrick and Alistair are fortunate in that they have a wheelchair that affords them comfort and independence. But evidence collected by the Association reveals that at any given time there are at least 500 people with MND waiting for a wheelchair and that some people can wait as long as two years.  This, the Association says, is unacceptable in a disease that is a rapidly progressive as MND.

Speaking at the event Prof Colin Blakemore, eminent scientist and President of the Association, explained that the NHS has not delivered an effective wheelchair service for people with MND but that by working closely with the Association within the proposed new NHS landscape now provides the Government with an excellent opportunity to change this.