A Newtownhamilton woman is planning to abseil down the Europa Hotel in Belfast on Fathers Day to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a charity close to home, with her husband Stephen living with the illness since 2016.

Tammy Lines is a full time carer for her husband and mother to their two small children aged eight and three.

Stephen Lines with his daughter Daisy and son Noah.
Stephen Lines with his daughter Daisy and son Noah.

Speaking about the time Stephen was diagnosed, Tammy says "My husband was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease back in January 2016. It was a huge shock as his first symptom of this disease was a little finger on his left hand that stuck out too far. We all thought it was just nerve damage from a previous accident but we were very very wrong.

"It took Stephen a long time to come to terms with his diagnosis, he was in denial for a long time. he couldn’t accept it considering he was only 45 at the time. We didn’t tell our children about Stephen being ill until it was necessary as we didn’t want to cause them any extra distress. So we kept it secret for months trying to avoid talking to people so they wouldn’t ask questions about Stephen. No one knew apart from immediate family and the health professionals."

Tammy knows that their children realise their Daddy is sick but they just don’t realise how ill he is and will become, but the 34 year old mother knows that they will face that together when the time comes.

Stephen was working as a mechanic at the time of diagnosis and remained working for around a year before his employer terminated his contract on health and safety grounds.

As Tammy adds "When he lost his job it was a major blow to his morale. Having gone from working 5 or 6 days a week for almost 30 years to sitting at home staring at 4 walls doing nothing. After work stopped his condition deteriorated rapidly as he was no longer being as physically active as he was. His mobility gradually got less and less and he now struggles with day to day tasks."

Stephen Lines with children Daisy and Noah on a trip to Portsmouth in September.
Stephen Lines with children Daisy and Noah on a trip to Portsmouth in September.

The family are so thankful to the Motor Neurone Association who have done so much to support them in these past 2 years. "From grants to have work completed on our house so that Stephen can drive his electric wheelchair in and out freely and safely on a newly installed ramp , to giving grants to the kids so we could buy them Christmas gifts, to invites to afternoon tea where we got to meet other people going through the same thing as us. Not to mention regular visits from Anne for general support, chats and keeping us up to date with MNDA news and events."

Tammy is doing the abseil jointly with Anne Sleith a MNDA NI volunteer who is an association visitor. Anne herself became involved with the MNDA when she retired, her mother Maise Keenan died from Motor Neurone Disease and Anne now spends her time volunteering to support people like the Line's family.

The 51 metre high Europa Hotel is the location for the abseil on Sunday 17 June (Fathers Day) and if you want to support Tammy in her fundraiser you can contribute at 



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