TRCH Blood Brothers

Broad Appeal

12 July 11 words: Scott Oliver
Former England Cricket International Chris Broad and his two children Stuart and Gemma are uniting to raise money and awareness for MND
The Broad family: Gemma, Stuart and Chris (from l-r)
The Broads: Gemma, Stuart and Chris (from l-r)


Rewind to Thursday 8 July, 2010 at our city’s famous Trent Bridge ground.That afternoon, Stuart Broad – the Nottingham-born poster boy of English cricket, playing a mere six-hit or two from his doorstep – is going about his business for England in the first One Day International against Bangladesh and duly seeing off the likes of Tamim Iqbal (recently signed for Notts’ Twenty20 campaign) and Shakib-al-Hassan in a straightforward England victory. Everything is as it should be…

Except just the day before, his much-loved stepmother Miche had committed suicide through a massive overdose of prescription painkillers Tramadol and Diazepam in order to escape the depredations and heart-wrenching debilitation she had suffered at the hands of Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a nervous disorder that had rendered her still-agile mind prisoner in a body whose movements she could not control, even down to talking and eating - a disease that had, she felt, put meaningful life out of reach.

It was at Miche’s request that Stuart - just like his father, Chris (who also played for England and Notts and was voted the International Cricketer of the Year in 1987) – should attempt to carry on life as normal. For, despite the fact that she had to conceal her plans from the family due to the likelihood that, under English law, they would be charged with murder (Chris is, along with Booker-prize winning author, Ian McEwan, a supporter of the Dignity in Dying campaign, which calls for the law to be changed to allow assisted suicide for mentally competent adults with terminal illnesses), her passing was for all of them a blessed relief from the torture she had been suffering.

How different things were less than 18 months earlier when, in February 2009, Miche had travelled to Adelaide as a vibrant, globetrotting professional, organizing events on the PGA golf tour. But it was there that she first noticed things were awry, the primary symptoms including an uncontrollable, sober slurring of her voice. Chris was in Pakistan at the time, refereeing Test matches there and undergoing a major drama of his own as an ill-fated series was infamously curtailed by a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team coach and, behind it, a minibus carrying the officials in which, under a hail of bullets, Chris bravely used his body as a human shield to protect one of his fellow match officials who had been struck.

It took three months for Miche to receive the diagnosis of MND (in many cases it is much longer from the onset of symptoms to this conclusion) - perhaps crucial time lost in tackling this most rapidly degenerative of conditions, one that claims five lives per day in the UK, one in ninety percent of cases of which the cause is utterly unknown and for which a cure is equally out of reach, one that extinguishes the life of half of sufferers within a mere 14 months.

MND’s most famous sufferer is of course the astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who, despite having one of the slowest degenerating and rarest types, has been completely dependent upon machines and carers for years; but there are hundreds of others, with varying forms of the disease, depending on which of the nerve cells (motor neurones) that send messages to the muscles from the brain are affected. Miche’s was bulbar palsy, which attacks the throat, and left her unable to talk, chew, or swallow.

For all the foreknowledge and inevitability of Miche’s sad demise, the family were left to come to terms with a huge absence in their lives, and did so by endeavouring to bring MND to greater public awareness with their five month-old charity, The Broad Appeal. Founded in February this year, they have set out an initial two-year commitment to tackling MND, not simply through publicising this most mystifying disease’s existence, but also through undertaking various fundraising initiatives to try and help the attempt by the scientific and medical communities to comprehend it more fully and, ultimately, develop the most fruitful ways of counteracting it.

For their part, Nottinghamshire CCC have shown tremendous support with their decision to persuade partners Coors Brewery to forsake their shirt sponsorship in lieu of increased ‘pouring rights’ at the venue, thus enabling the County to emblazon The Broad Appeal’s logo on their limited-overs kit. Notts also donated £5 for each ticket sold for the recent One Day International against Sri Lanka, a total of £2500 in all, and hope that the community beyond the Broads’ cricketing fraternity can join the effort, either by using their JustGiving page or by attending the events themselves.

Broad Appeal website

 

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