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Touching tribute Chef taking on 2,750km charity cycle in memory of his 'bold and beautiful' partner

Alisdair Anderson is cycling from Dublin to Nerja in Spain to raise funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of his partner Ruth Staines

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LOSS: Alisdair and Ruth, who passed away in April

LOSS: Alisdair and Ruth, who passed away in April

LOSS: Alisdair and Ruth, who passed away in April

Meet the man who is embarking on a 2,750km charity cycle to pay tribute to his ‘bold and beautiful’ partner who died from Motor Neurone Disease.

Ruth Staines was diagnosed with the terminal condition in May 2020 and as the disease progressed the 31-year-old was unable to walk and lost the ability to use her hands as she became locked in her own body.

Tragically, just 11 months later, the project manager died.

In Ruth’s memory, her partner Alisdair Anderson is cycling 2,750km from Dublin to Nerja, Spain, to raise vital funds for the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association and spread vital awareness of the illness.

The rare and incurable condition causes a degeneration of the cells and nerves in the brain and spinal cord. As messages fail to reach the muscles, those affected are progressively robbed of their ability to move, speak, swallow and, finally, breathe.

Most people with MND will die within five years of the onset of symptoms.

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The late Ruth Staines.

The late Ruth Staines.

The late Ruth Staines.

For Ruth, the illness targeted her mobility, but as it progressed it prevented her from being able to even send a private text message or play her beloved Candy Crush.

Speaking exclusively to the Sunday World from their home in Stoneybatter, Dublin, chef Alisdair speaks about his beautiful partner Ruthie.

“This is about keeping Ruth alive and raising awareness about this truly horrific disease. When Ruth was diagnosed we were all very optimistic and we thought she might have five or even 10 years — but people don’t realise that it is more common to die in the first year. Stephen Hawkins is a one in a million situation. The reality is so much more devastating. Time was never on our side.”

The couple began to notice something was amiss last January when Ruth began to feel unbalanced on her feet.

“Last January she tripped over a couple of times and she knew something was off. She went to her doctor and eventually got sent to the neurological department in Beaumont Hospital.

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“She walked into that diagnosis so alive and in a couple of months she was in a wheelchair, by Christmas she couldn’t move her arms, the speed of the disease is relentless.

“As the weeks went on she would lose control of something else but despite that I have never seen someone living with a terminal illness to be so positive even when she was robbed of so much.”

Providing full-time care for his partner, Alisdair said: “Ruth was always bossing me around, ‘have you fed the dog?’ and telling me, ‘no, you’re doing that wrong.’ And that really kept me going.

“She never stopped having a joke, even at the very end when she couldn’t speak properly she would take her mask off and say ‘testing, one, two’ — she wanted to make people laugh and was more worried about everyone else.

“I saw her cry twice throughout her entire illness, she was remarkably strong.”

The Scotsman is now taking on the mammoth charity challenge to support the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association, which provides care and support to people with MND — the same service which offered wheelchairs, nursing, mobility and homecare support to Ruth.

“Without them, we would have been lost. They provided Ruth with Eye Gaze technology, which allowed Ruth to send messages, flick through TikTok and of course play Candy Crush — all without the use of her hands.

“The support they provided to Ruth throughout her illness allowed her to live a much more comfortable life. I can’t thank them enough for the speed in which they moved, as time sadly was never on Ruthie’s side.”

Alisdair also has another reason for taking on the challenge just two months after Ruth’s untimely death.

“I want to remind people how amazing she was, she was bold and she was beautiful and she was so, so loved. I remember Ruth telling me a story about when she gatecrashed Michael Jackson’s funeral, while pretending to be a journalist from Ireland. She was so alive, so adventurous.

“It still hasn’t kicked in fully that she isn’t here, sometimes it feels like she is still here with me. It is still so fresh — it has only been two months.”

“We had food drops every single day – she was blessed with the most incredible family. Most of her family were off and the whole community was close at hand. We made the most amazing memories with family and friends and there is no price on that.

“Now I’m just asking people to dig deep in their pockets to donate to this amazing cause. All donations go straight to the Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association.”

See justgiving.com/fundraising/ruth-staines to donate.

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