Today, on Wednesday, 21 June, we observe Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day. This is a day to raise awareness about this uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that worsens over time. Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for MND, and it can significantly reduce life expectancy.
In honour of this day, we share the heart-warming story of Naomi and Melissa, who reunited through dance at the Rowans Does Strictly event in January 2023.
Naomi first came into contact with Rowans Hospice Charity when her Mum was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). She remembers;
The care Mum received was amazing. She was worried about accepting help at first, but once she had attended Day Care (now known as Rowans Living Well Centre) and met the staff, she felt comfortable and happy.
When she visited Day Care, she met others in a similar position, and enjoyed participating in arts & crafts and socialising. Further along the line she was admitted to the In-patient Unit a few times for some respite care.
After a while, it became clear that Naomi’s Mum required palliative care, and she was looked after by the Charity, both as an In-patient and at home. One of the Nurses who cared for Naomi’s Mum and supported the family during this time was Melissa.
Naomi recalls; “I remember Melissa chatting to us about a swim she had done for Motor Neurone Disease. She was always smiley, chatty and made my Mum laugh a lot.”
Melissa worked at the Hospice for around five years, joining the team temporarily in order to gain specialist palliative care experience.
A few years later, Naomi and Melissa both decided to audition for the Rowans Does Strictly dance competition, and met again.
At the auditions for Rowans Does Strictly, I didn’t recognise Naomi at first, and by pure chance we were partnered up together. When rehearsals started, we got chatting and Naomi said she remembered me from when her Mum was in the Hospice, which jogged my memory. I couldn’t believe how long ago it was!
The pair began training together and built up a strong friendship.
Naomi told us; “It has been lovely to be partnered up with Melissa. We weren’t meant to be at first, but once we were, we had this one thing in common, and it felt comfortable straight away. Mum loved Strictly, and I couldn’t have wished to dance with anyone else.”