Monday 26 September 2016

Hawkins weeps at father's plight

Published 16/06/2015 | 12:26

Charlotte Hawkins will take her campaign to Downing Street
Charlotte Hawkins will take her campaign to Downing Street

Good Morning Britain host Charlotte Hawkins shed tears as she recounted her father's battle with motor neurone disease.

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Frank, a vicar, died in January at the age of 78, just a month before Hawkins had her first child, Ella-Rose.

Hawkins, 40, who is raising awareness of the condition by taking a petition to Downing Street, struggled to control her emotions as she watched footage of her father talking about the dramatic change that the progressive disease had on his life.

She told ITV show This Morning: "He was diagnosed in September 2011 but a few months before that he'd started to notice that things had changed.

"He'd started to feel his balance had been affected. He described it as feeling like he was walking through snow. We noticed that the grip in his hands was going.

"He knew, himself, that something was wrong and I think he sensed that it was something serious but he had to wait a while to get that diagnosis.... when he finally got that diagnosis it shook all our worlds."

Hawkins, who returned to Good Morning Britain on Monday after taking maternity leave, said: " He knew in his heart of hearts it was going to be something serious but then to discover more about it, to realise the effect that it has on a person's body.

"Their body gives up around them, it just deteriorates . They end up being a shell of the person they once were.

"He was grateful in a sense that, if he was going to get this he got it in his 70s. It can happen at any age... My dad felt he'd seen his children grow up, his grandchildren being born, he felt fortunate from that point of view. He had an amazing attitude towards it."

She added: "It's too late for my dad but we owe it to everybody else to really put the money into researching this."

Hawkins told This Morning presenters Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden: "He tried to keep his hobbies, he loved birdwatching... We tried to adapt to everything that happened.

"We set up these birdfeeders right outside the window so that the birds came to him....but your world almost collapses in you and I think there's a great sense of loneliness that a lot of people with Motor Neurone Disease feel."

She added: "He didn't let it change him as a person. I never saw him angry or frustrated with anything that was happening to him, even when he lost his mobility.... he was confined to a wheelchair, he wasn't able to go outside."

Hawkins said that the birth of her baby daughter in February had helped the family.

"For a long time we were hoping to give him that news (that she was pregnant). I was just so relieved that he knew that our baby was on the way even though, sadly, he died a month before she was born," she said.

"It was very difficult emotionally to lose my dad and then she came along. But she has been a really positive focus for the family. It brings home to you the fragility of life, the circle of life, my dad leaving us and her arriving."

She said: "I definitely feel his presence every day, that he's still watching over us."

Hawkins, together with sufferers of motor neurone disease, is taking a petition to Downing Street to call for better care and support as well as more funding to combat the disease.

She told the ITV show: "We need to find a cure, we need to find effective treatments.

"That was one thing that really shocked me when dad got his diagnosis, is the fact that in this day and age with all the modern advancements, the medical technologies that we have, there's nothing, no cure, no treatment."

Her comments came as physicist Sir Stephen Hawking, whose struggle with motor neurone disease inspired the Oscar-winning film The Theory Of Everything, said that he would consider assisted suicide if he was "in great pain" or felt he "had nothing more to contribute".

Press Association

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