How 60-year-old MS Society volunteer refuses to let the condition ruin his life after being diagnosed aged 14

An MS sufferer who has lived with the condition for more than 40 years has told how he has a full and active life thanks to a support group.

Sunday, 15th September 2019, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 1:21 am
Members of the South Tyneside MS Society at their weekly coffee morning at Cafe at the House, Laygate, South Shields on Thursday. Graeme Weatherall (second from left).

Graeme Weatherall, who is the lead volunteer for the MS Society Support Group in South Tyneside, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of just 14.

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause symptoms including blurred vision and mobility problems.

The 60-year-old, who lives in Cleadon, is fully wheelchair dependent now, and has a carer who visits him twice a day, but he doesn’t let that stop him from living life to the fullest.

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Graeme Weatherall on a recent trip to New York

Graeme has been an active member of the support group, which currently has 50 members from across the borough, for the last four years.

They meet every Thursday at Trinity House, South Shields for a weekly coffee morning and gentle exercise class, as well as holding monthly committee meetings, social lunches, quiz nights and day trips.

A local travel counsellor also helps members to book accessible holidays.

Now Graeme is spreading the word about how the group could help other people living with the condition in South Tyneside.

Lead support worker Graeme Weatherall on the group trip to Beamish

“We are looking to heighten people’s awareness of MS in the area,” said Graeme.

“The statistics say there are around 300 people with MS living in our area, we want to try and get to the other 250 people.”

He continued: “One of the biggest things about having MS is the isolation and lack of motivation, so we try and encourage people to get involved.

"The diagnosis of MS is quite horrific but its not the end of the world. They will soon see that people are enjoying their life and getting out and about.”

Graeme Weatherall on a recent trip to New York

The group can also offer holistic advice and support to those who have recently been diagnosed, can signpost people to relevant services and provide some support grants.

“Everybody without fail gets the benefit from chatting to us,” added Graeme. “They get social interaction, friendships, a reason to get out of bed, one or two mornings a week, and a chance to get active.”

Contact 07979852369 or visit the MS Society South Tyneside Facebook page.