Singer Tony Hadley and actor Shane Richie have been named as celebrity patrons of the Huntington’s Disease Association.
Tony Hadley and actor Shane Richie are joined by former rowing champion Sarah Winckless – patron of the Scottish Huntington’s Association. The new patrons made their first appearance at an event in London this week to launch the new UK and Ireland Huntington’s Alliance.
The event was the first time the four Huntington’s Disease Associations of the UK and Ireland had come together to help raise awareness of the genetic, neurological condition which affects around 6,000 to 10,000 people in the UK.
Mr Hadley, lead singer of 1980’s band Spandau Ballet, said: ‘A relative of mine recently died from Huntington’s Disease and I saw first hand what it does and how debilitating the disease can be.
‘If I can help in any way to raise the profile of Huntington’s, and at the same time raise as much money as possible to aid research, I will be there 100%.’
Mr Richie said he first became aware of the disease a few years ago when it featured in a plot in the soap opera Eastenders, in which he was starring as the character Alfie Moon at the time.
‘It wasn’t until I sat down and did some research that I realised what a tough time the families of people with Huntington’s Disease have,’ he said.
‘Raising money is one thing, but raising awareness is another,’ he added. ‘Once you start raising awareness you get a snowball effect - more people start getting involved, and then you start to get the money.’
Olympic bronze medallist Ms Winckless – who’s mother has Huntington’s Disease - retired from professional rowing two months ago. But she is to go back on the water later this month at Henley Women’s Regatta, where she aims to raise £10,000 in ten days for the Scottish Huntington’s Association.
Huntington’s Disease awareness week runs from 8 to 14 June 2009.