AFTER her former neighbour was struck down with motor neurone disease, Melissa Bell decided to do something special to support her.
So the caring 32-year-old held a family fundraiser at the weekend as a way of giving Iris Prior a boost and raising cash towards the effort to help other people with the same degenerative condition.
Melissa, of Drayton, arranged a day of fun at Portsmouth’s Roko Health Club that included a bouncy castle, cake and sweet stalls, as well as face painting and a football penalty shoot-out for children. A raffle was also held.
Dozens of family, friends and supporters turned out to back the occasion and to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association – a charity that supports people affected by the disease.
Melissa, who formerly lived in Purbrook on the same street as Iris, said: ‘Iris was a neighbour for six years.
‘We have remained very close. We called her our “mum” and she called us the kids. She was diagnosed with MND in September and I have been going to a support group with her.
‘The disease is quite horrible, really, and I thought this would be a way of making a difference and helping out. It’s the first time I’ve ever done this.’
Melissa, a nurse, added: ‘I felt so helpless and didn’t know initially what to do for her. It was a shock. So this is about raising awareness and enabling people to know more about the disease.’
Lorraine Jarvis, of Lovedean, helps out at the MND support session, which takes place at the Rowans Hospice on the first Monday of every month.
Lorraine’s husband David died in 2013 from MND, which causes parts of the nervous system to become damaged
She said: ‘It’s such a hard disease for anybody to live and cope with.
‘Having had the experience of living with someone who had it, it’s so important they get all of the help they can.
‘You can’t go through this alone. There’s no two people the same with MND.
‘It affects people in different ways. It’s so important we do what we can and that’s why I came along to support Melissa. ‘It’s a wonderful thing that she has done to take the time to do all of this herself.’
For more go to mndportsmouth.org