Chorley wife battles to save 'her hero's' independence after devastating diagnosis
A brave wife is battling to restore her husband's independence after he was diagnosed with a devastating neurological disease.
Serving police officer Dave Fairhurst, who lives near Chorley, first noticed a problem with his health when he began to suffer from trembling muscles and cramps in his legs in March last year.
But it wasn’t until June, when the normally fit and healthy 39-year-old collapsed during a routine police fitness test, that the seriousness of his condition was revealed.
Dave’s wife Lynsey Fairhurst, also a police officer, has told how the father-of-two had been running when his leg went into spasm and he collapsed on the floor.
She said: “We immediately went to see our GP and she was amazing and told us to get a specialist opinion as soon as possible. I think she knew what was wrong.
“A few days later we went to see a consultant at Salford Royal which is a centre of excellence in neurological disease. Within a matter of weeks Dave was diagnosed with ALS – a severe strain of Motor Neurone Disease.”
The heroic father of Matilda, eight, and Annabelle, seven, has received three commendations for bravery during his 15-year career with Lancashire Police and in 2009 he was awarded the Pride of Lancashire for helping to save a woman who was being stabbed by her partner.
In recent months the progression of the disease has meant that the PC has become confined to a wheelchair.
And the illness has also forced Dave to give up his work on the front line of the Armed Response Unit, although he still works for the police in an office-based role.
Lynsey said: "Dave has always been my action man and I have always said that if I ever needed to entrust my life in anyone, in any situation, it would be him.
"He has always supported me and been my rock when I have encountered tough times, now it's my turn to help him.
“He is struggling to get out and about. He has always been very active and outdoorsy. He has lost a lot of his independence at the moment.
“We hope this new wheelchair will keep him moving and positive – we don’t want this illness to take over his life.
“Once the illness starts to affect his breathing he won’t be able to go out - he needs to get out and about while he can.
“Coming to terms with the possibility of not seeing his precious girls reach adulthood is cruel to say the least and the thought of not having my Dave in my life torments me every day.
“The most important thing now is for Dave to be able to live a full, happy and independent life, he wants to take his girls for bike rides and go on adventures with our dog Sam.
“After lots of research I have found an amazing all terrain electric wheelchair - Four x DL, it’s not cheap at Â£14,500 but to see my Dave happy is priceless.”
Sgt Tony Ball, Dave’s superior, said: “Dave has been a huge part of armed policing in east Lancashire over the years taking part in many critical incidents. He qualified as a specialist firearms officer and has always remained a well-liked, team-orientated person.
“During his service he has received the following commendations, including Police Life Saving, a Chief Superintendent Commendation for preventing serious injury, the Chief Constable’s commendation for bravery and he has completed his Sergeant’s Exam for long-term career prospects.
“Despite his abilities, he has remained a humble individual, always ready to support his colleagues and strive for the best in his family life and career.
“He was, and still is a pleasure to work with and always wears a smile that inspires others in difficult times.”
Director of External Affairs for the MND Association, Chris James said: "Today in the UK, six people will hear the devastating news that they have Motor Neurone Disease (MND).
"Many people with MND can deteriorate incredibly quickly, so it is vitally important for them to get the support of specialists in a range of areas as quickly as possible.
"The MND Association campaigns to ensure all people with this devastating disease get the best possible care and support wherever they live."
Anyone who would like to donate to the wheelchair fund should visit https://www.gofundme.com/mndwheels