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Ian Flatt: Living with MND

1 in 300 people will be diagnosed with motor neurone disease in their lifetime, with six people being diagnosed with the condition per day.

The disease affects the way motor neurones reach the muscles, leading to the body losing functions such as walking, talking, eating and many others. The condition has no cure with the speed of symptoms varying from person to person. The effects of the disease make everyday tasks a challenge for the person and their loved ones.

One individual in particular has not let his diagnosis of MND prevent him from taking on a challenge for charitable causes. Ian Flatt was diagnosed with the disease in March 2019, since then he has made the decision to fundraise as much money as he possibly can.

We recently conducted an interview with Ian, and this is what he had to say.

“Having been diagnosed with MND in 2019 I was determined that I would continue doing the things I enjoy for as long as possible. As we met more and more people with the condition I was also determined to take on challenges that would raise a smile, raise funds and show my support for those people living with MND who could no longer do things like this”.

Ian’s most recent challenge took place between the 7th and 16th July; a 100-mile trek starting in Nidderdale and finishing in the highest pub in Britain, The Tan Inn in Swaledale. Ian was accompanied on his journey by his amazing support team who helped along the way.

“Most of the team are incredibly fit, strong and positive people who have completed previous challenges such as climbing Mount Snowdon and running the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon with me. Their positivity and ability to find solutions ensures that we can embark on these challenges with some confidence”.

With the magnitude of this event stretching 100 miles it is fair to say that it required lots of preparation. Here’s what Ian had to say about some of the challenges they faced.

“One of the biggest challenges in planning this adventure was finding routes that whilst testing for me and the Tangerine Dream Machine they were in the very least possible. For instance, I clearly cant climb over stiles or wade through deep rivers, so the planning was incredibly important. To this end some of the team cycled or mountain biked a few of the routes in advance”.

Despite rigorous planning and Ian’s amazing support team, he still faced a tough mental and physical battle with the trek. We asked him what was the toughest challenge he faced and this is what he had to say.

“The toughest part for me was recognising the progression in my condition since our last challenge and the feeling of vulnerability which that brings. I wasn’t scared necessarily, but there were occasions where I thought, “please get me out of here” but of course, you overcome this and ultimately trust the people around you to keep you safe.

“From a physical perspective, steering the machine was tough as I have very little strength left in my arm and can only manipulate my thumb for steering”.

Ian has, so far, raised an incredible £16,948 for the MND Association and the Leeds Hospitals Charity appeal to build the Rob Burrow Centre for MND – quickly surpassing his original target of £16,000.

“As a family living with MND we know how important the Rob Burrow Centre for MND will be and we will continue to support the appeal in any way we can. It has become even more important as we’ve grown to know Rob and his family and of course have so many shared experiences with this disease”.

“Rachael and I are so grateful for all the support we’ve received, we know how difficult times are for so many people right now but somehow they’ve found ways to sponsor and support us. People have been incredibly kind and incredibly generous and we would like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts”.

Lastly we asked Ian and his wife Rachael how they have found support along the way and the media exposure they have received, here is what they had to say.

“100 Mile Trek was very well supported by the local media and in particular the regional news programmes, Calendar and BBC Look North alongside BBC Breakfast. We’ve been very lucky that the BBC have been incredibly supportive over the last couple of years and have covered most if not all of the challenges we’ve taken on.

“Amy Garcia and Olivia Richwald from BBC Look North have really championed our cause and the Rob Burrow MND Centre Appeal joining us on this trek, running the marathon and of course, Olivia joined us on the Snowdon climb”.

To find out more about Ian and his amazing fundraising you can head over to his Instagram page here.  Look out for his posts with #WhatsYourMountain hashtag across social media. 

To donate to this magnificent cause and support both the MNDA and Leeds Hospital Charity, click here.

Ian would like to thank the following companies and outlets for support during the challenge: 

Leeds Teaching Hospital
MND Association
All Terrain Wheelchairs
BBC Yorkshire (Look North)
Magic Mobility


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