The widower of a ‘brave’ woman who died of a rare neurological condition is walking in her memory to raise funds and awareness.
Joyce James passed away in September 2017 of Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a condition which eventually left her unable to move and only able to communicate by blinking.
Her husband of 51 years, Frank James, is combining walking and gardening, two of Joyce’s great loves, in honour of her.
Frank was serving at RAF Tangmere when, in 1966 he met Joyce, who was working as a telephonist at Chichester Post Office Exchange, and they married the following year.
Frank’s job as a weapon systems officer in the RAF saw them live in Scotland and north England and over ‘many happy years’ built their family of two daughters and three grandchildren.
Joyce, the daughter of long-term Chichester business owners David and Margaret Messam, was diagnosed with A-typical Parkinson’s in 2012, and in 2014 they returned to live in her home city of Chichester, where she was diagnosed with MSA that year.
Frank said: “By this stage she was already wheelchair bound and struggling to communicate.
“Over the next three years Joyce bravely dealt with everything that was thrown at her.
“She gradually lost her ability to move any of her limbs and could only communicate by blinking or using her eye gaze.
“She struggled to chew and swallow food, eventually everything she ate had to be pureed.
“Throughout it all she never complained and somehow maintained a sense of humour and a very sharp wit.
“I lost Joyce on September 9, 2017.”
Speaking about his fundraising walk, Frank said: “To commemorate Joyce’s love of walking and gardening it my intention, along with our daughters Shirell and Andrea, family and friends, to walk from Kingsand on Plymouth Sound to the Lost Garden of Heligan along the South West Coastal Path in Cornwall to raise funds in memory of Joyce for the MSA Trust.
“We would like any funds we raise used to help train health care professionals become more aware of MSA and how best to provide care for patients suffering from the illness.”
To help Frank raise funds click here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/frank-james1
And for more about MSA click here: https://www.msatrust.org.uk/