A loving tribute to dying father

Kettering motor neurone disease story: Norman Humphrey, with his daughters l-r Claire and Rachael.'19/04/11
Kettering motor neurone disease story: Norman Humphrey, with his daughters l-r Claire and Rachael.'19/04/11

Loving daughters forced to watch a cruel disease rob their once-active father of life have pledged to make him proud with a fundraising fight in his honour.

A few years ago “Stormin” Norman Humphrey, 62, was a bodybuilder, professional 10-pin bowler, champion bird-keeper and angler.

But after motor neurone disease (MND) started attacking the nerve cells that control his muscles, Mr Humphrey, of Kettering, can barely move and now speaks at a whisper.

Daughter Claire, 32, said: “It’s hard knowing that the main voice in your family is slowly getting quieter.

“You feel like you have been robbed.

“It’s hard to see someone that was so strong now need us around him to do everything for him.”

Doctors have only given Mr Humphrey between six months and two years to live, but Claire and sister Rachael have pledged to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association to continue the fight as a tribute to him.

Rachael, 25, said: “Seeing my father in this way is difficult to accept and knowing the outcome makes it harder, but it has also brought us closer together and we try to enjoy each other while we still can, knowing that it will only be for a short time longer.

“Although the fundraising work we are doing won’t benefit our father it will hopefully benefit other sufferers and make our father proud of us for doing it on his behalf, as a tribute to him and as a huge thank you to him as well.

“He’s an inspiration to us and we’re proud of him for everything he’s done in his life.”

Despite having children of their own to look after, the sisters help their mother Grace with the round-the-clock care Mr Humphrey needs.

Mrs Humphrey almost lost her sight 17 years ago and only has 20 per cent vision in one eye.

Claire said: “When she came home from hospital he had to do everything for her – but now the roles have changed.

“Now, when mum takes dad out in a wheelchair she’s his body and he’s her eyes.”

The speed of the disease has shocked the family.

Mr Humphrey was only diagnosed in October and two months ago he would be out at car boot sales in a motorised scooter.

But now he is confined to his bed and needs assistance to eat, breathe and swallow.

Mr Humphrey ran many of the bowling leagues in the area and raised thousands of pounds for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Kettering General Hospital and Cransley Hospice in the 1990s with world record-breaking 24-hour bowling marathons at New York Thunderbowl in Kettering.

But now the hospice he raised funds for is now caring for him.

He said: “I have always tried to earn Brownie points for when I go ‘up there’ and all the Brownie points seem to have been struck off for some reason.”

Rachael is holding a cake sale, raffle and art competition at Jiminy Cricket Pre-school, which her four-year-old son attends, on May 26. Claire wants to hold a charity match at Kettering Rugby Club and a fundraiser at New York Thunderbowl in Kettering.

To donate raffle prizes, arrange fundraising events or offer help, contact Claire or Rachael by emailing whiting118@btinternet.com or cleg78@talktalk.net.