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West Berkshire garden party raises whopping £22,000 to fight motor neurone disease



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A SUMMER garden party with the freedom feel-good factor has raised an incredible £22,000 to help fight motor neurone disease.

Hair salon group Forresters and The Old Boot Inn at Stanford Dingley joined forces on Sunday (July 25) for the sparkling event, which was inspired by two beloved women affected by the progressive life-limiting neuro condition.

John Forrester, who founded the company with his wife Jill 50 years ago, said: “It was a fabulous evening with drinks, delicious eats, music, dancing, an auction and raffle.

Maz Swann, and John Forrester with the Old Boot Inn hosts Rebecca James, Andre Claassen and Anton Claassen
Maz Swann, and John Forrester with the Old Boot Inn hosts Rebecca James, Andre Claassen and Anton Claassen

“It was the first time in 18 months that a group of people could come together to have a wonderful evening and raise money for charity.”

He explained the MND Association is close to their hearts because a member of the Forresters Pangbourne salon team, Marian ‘Maz’ Swann, has recently been diagnosed with the disease.

Mr Forrester added: “It’s a shock for everyone but we’re able to do something positive by raising funds for the charity that’s helping Maz to live her life to the full.”

Maz Swann with Stuart Forrester, Forresters style director based at Tilehurst and Thatcham salons with his painting of David Bowie which was sold in aid of the event
Maz Swann with Stuart Forrester, Forresters style director based at Tilehurst and Thatcham salons with his painting of David Bowie which was sold in aid of the event

Andre Claassen and Rebecca James from The Old Boot Inn at Stanford Dingley also have personal experience of MND too, as Andre’s sister Sharon Budde lost her life to MND in April.

The organisers said they had been bowled over by the generosity of all the local businesses who wanted to do their bit by donating prizes to help the cause.

Jane Gilbert, spokesperson for the charity’s Reading and West Berkshire branch, said she was overjoyed with the success of the evening.

She added: “This amazing generosity will help us improve care and support for local people living with MND, their families and carers.

Auctioneer Simon Fryer, from Hampstead Norreys, with assistants Amy Whiting and Janet Martin-Kerr at the MND fundraiser on Sunday.
Auctioneer Simon Fryer, from Hampstead Norreys, with assistants Amy Whiting and Janet Martin-Kerr at the MND fundraiser on Sunday.

“No-one can describe the devastating impact of this cruel condition better than Maz whom we helped to bank her voice digitally and which she used to give a speech on the night.”

Hair stylist Mrs Swann, who was diagnosed with MND in February just before her 60th birthday, said the news completely shattered her world.

She told the audience: “What an incredible turnout. I apologise that I am using my digital voice for this short speech, but the type of Motor Neurone Disease that I have is called Bulbar, Onset, which affects all the muscles in the top half of my body first; and has therefore affected my speech.”

International DJ Stephanie Jay from Bucklebury played at the charity event on Sunday.
International DJ Stephanie Jay from Bucklebury played at the charity event on Sunday.

The MND Association says the understanding of the causes of MND has improved dramatically over the last two decades but the biggest challenge remains: to turn this knowledge into effective treatments. It believes that MND is not incurable, but it is underfunded.

Mrs Gilbert added: “Researchers are already making good progress, and urgently need more Government funding to take the science out of the labs and into clinical trials.”

To donate to the charity’s event page visit https://localgiving.org/appeal/forresters/

Maz Swann (seated centre with L to R Lynne Smith and John Forrester) with the organising team
Maz Swann (seated centre with L to R Lynne Smith and John Forrester) with the organising team


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