Man keeps motor neurone disease at bay with gym and protein shakes


Darrell - Credit: Archant

An inspirational former showjumper is keeping his motor neurone disease at bay by going to the gym four times a week and taking protein supplements.

Darrell was an international showjumper

Darrell was an international showjumper - Credit: Archant

Darrell Wright, 53, was diagnosed with the degenerative condition eight years ago, and was told he had three-to-five years left to live.

But after a year of sitting at home doing nothing, the Hornchurch-born father-of-two decided to “turn his life around” and joined Central Park Gym in Harold Hill.

“I’m fighting off the disease that otherwise would have got me a lot earlier,” he told the Recorder. “When I was diagnosed they said just go home, we’ll be in contact. For a year I did just that. Then I thought actually I am going to turn this around.”

Darrell, who lives in Belgrave Avenue, Gidea Park with his long-term partner and carer, Deb, had never set foot in a gym before his diagnosis but competed internationally as a show jumper.

He has now lost 2.5st and takes protein supplements twice a day.

“I do an upper body work out and I’ve built it up, because MND takes it away,” he said. “My right hand and shoulder are wearing away, and my legs are like skeletons.”

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He was diagnosed after becoming so tired at his family car business – Imperials in Chadwell Heath – that he was exhausted by 11am and unable to climb three steps.

At the gym he often has people asking him about his condition and how he manages to keep so positive.

“I was devastated when I found out but I’ve just got such a positive outlook,” he said. “The doctors can’t believe it, they see me as a one off. When other people are diagnosed they tell them about me.

“Going to the gym helps mentally as well because I’m getting out meeting people – not stuck inside all the time.

“Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I can’t get out of bed and other times I mentally can’t put one foot in front of the other, but I’ll keep going as long as I physically can.”

Darrell also plays golf once a week.

“I started two years ago and now have a handicap of 16,” he boasts. “That’s self taught too, I’ve never had a lesson.”