A WOMAN from West Berkshire has spoken of the devastating effect the illness ME is having on her life.
Sally Ager-Harris has been suffering from myalgic encephal-omyelitis (ME) for nearly nine years. Around 250,000 people in Britain are estimated to be affected by the illness, which can cause severe and debilitating fatigue, painful muscles and joints, disordered sleep, gastric disturbances, poor memory and concentration.
Mrs Ager-Haris said: “I realised something was seriously wrong when I could not walk to my car after work. This followed months of a glandular fever- style repeated flu bout.
“I had a great 40 years of full- on living. Running 12 miles no problem, the 2005 Moon Walk, walking my dog Meg, socialising, dancing, shopping, cleaning the house top to bottom, remodelling the garden.
“My career included 12 years of human rights, emergency relief humanitarian work for the UN and Foreign Office including Somalia, Kosovo, the United States and Geneva.”
However, since discovering she had ME, Mrs Ager-Harris has set out to raise awareness about her condition, highlighting how young people are affected.
She said: “My real motivation is for kids. There are so many children who have got ME, who go to one or two days of school a week. I have done lots and lots of things with my life.
“I met a grandfather whose two grandchildren have ME and are often too ill to attend school. I am lucky and although I have had ME since 2006 and am now unable to work due to a deterioration in my condition, I have had over 40 years of living. These children, teenagers and young people have not yet had a chance to fulfil their dreams and ambitions.
“There’s no money or diagnosis or care and I want to raise awareness.”
People gathered in their sleepwear to aid Mrs Ager-Harris’ cause in ‘the big sleep’ at the Cross Keys pub in Pangbourne on Monday.
The event raised more than £700 for the charity Invest in ME, via ticket sales and donations to JustGiving.
The pub also donated £5 for every ticket sold, with local shops and businesses providing raffle prizes, as well as a best pajama and sleepwear competition.
Mrs Ager-Harris said: “It was a fun evening but most importantly did get people talking about ME.”