The mothers of Tourettes sufferers have completed a tour of 50 cities to raise awareness of the condition.
Donna Emmerson, Lizzy Mienik, Jac Campbell, and Eileen Darling finished The Tourettes Awareness Challenge yesterday in Carlisle, which saw them visit five cities a day in the UK over just 10 days.
The four mothers, who have six children with Tourettes Syndrome between them, met with representatives of every city council in the country to hand over information packs about the brain disorder.
“We have been overwhelmed by the reception we have received in every city”, said 50-year-old Jac, from Morpeth in Northumberland.
“Without exception, councils have been welcoming, positive, and willing to listen to what we’ve had to say,” added Jac, who is also a trustee of the charity Tourettes Action. The information packs will help frontline staff such as social workers and teachers when they are supporting children and adults with the condition.
Liz, 40, from Ashington in Northumberland, said: “Sadly, too many people with Tourettes suffer stigma, isolation and lack of support. What I have enjoyed most about our challenge is that, along the way, people with Tourettes have been joining us to meet council leaders or simply coming out to support us and take part.”
After starting their challenge in Newcastle, the women travelled to all 50 cities in England, finishing 2,200 miles later in Carlisle on day 11. Nissan UK sponsored the mums with a Qashqai car, insurance and breakdown cover.
Eileen, 60, who has both a son and a grandson with Tourettes, said: “The greatest barrier to successful lives for people with Tourettes is ignorance. At the moment there is no cure for Tourettes, but we knew we could certainly do something about the ignorance.”
The team were supported by a host of people throughout their challenge, including Paul Stevenson from Berwick in Northumberland, who has Tourettes. He ran a daily online blog for the four mothers on their challenge.
“It is one of the most misunderstood conditions,” said Paul. “It is a complex brain disorder, but portrayed by many in the media as funny. The reality of living with Tourettes is far from funny. And only 10% of people with Tourettes swear,” he said.
Labour MP Ronnie Campbell for Blyth Valley said: “I think it’s incredible what these four great women are doing to raise awareness of Tourette Syndrome across the UK and, being mothers of children and adults with Tourettes, they will know first-hand that life with Tourettes can be really challenging.”
You can support the campaign at www.justgiving.com/TourettesAwarenessChallenge