A RETIRED Keighley GP has completed a gruelling walking challenge to boost the battle against motor neurone disease.

Ron McGill tackled the Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk, from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood's Bay.

He completed the 188-mile route in 13 days, raising over £5,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association.

Ron chose the charity because his good friend and fellow retired GP, Dr Will Thorburn, has the disease.

"We've been good friends since we met at Leeds Medical School 52 years ago," says Ron, 71.

"He was best man at my wedding and we both ended up as GPs in Keighley, Will at St Andrew’s Surgery – where he was well respected and liked by patients, staff and colleagues – and me at Kilmeny Medical Practice.

"Our families have been close ever since.

"In addition, another good friend – Lis Tomlinson, who was a practice nurse at Kilmeny – died from MND in 2004, so it is a disease that has greatly affected me."

Ron said he had also drawn inspiration for his challenge from the fundraising walks tackled by rugby league legend Kevin Sinfield, in honour of his friend and former teammate Rob Burrow.

"MND is a rapidly-progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord – attacking the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work," said Ron.

"It kills a third of people within a year and more than half within two years of diagnosis.

"It’s a devastating disease that affects up to 5,000 adults in the UK at any one time and kills six people every day. There is no cure.

"The MND Association focuses on research, improving access to care and campaigning for those people living with – or affected by – the disease."

Jenn Dodd, regional fundraiser for the association, said: "Without the amazing support of people like Ron, the association simply would not be able to provide its vital services, fund research to find a cure and campaign and raise awareness. Together we are making a real difference for people affected by this devastating disease."

Although motor neurone disease is progressive, symptoms can be managed to help achieve the best possible quality of life.

It can affect adults of any age, but is more likely to occur in those aged over 50.

People can still donate to Ron's walking challenge, at justgiving.com/fundraising/Ron-McGill1.

For more about the association, visit mndassociation.org.