By Andy Hirst

Bev Newton has been a massive supporter and fundraiser for Newsome Panthers amateur rugby league club for almost 30 years.

So when she was diagnosed late last year with Motor Neurone Disease the Panthers immediately rallied round to help Bev and husband Mick who has also been a stalwart at the club for 25 years.

Bev’s condition has deteriorated over the last 12 months and she now urgently needs a downstairs bedroom and wet room at the couple’s Berry Brow home.

The club is not only spearheading the £25,000 appeal but members and friends are also helping with work on the extension to get it ready for Bev as soon as possible. Work is underway and it’s hoped to get it done by the end of January at the latest.

Newsome Panthers have already scaled Mount Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales – to raise thousands of pounds and yesterday (Saturday, November 26) around 70 of them walked 23 miles from Wakefield Trinity’s ground to Newsome Panthers, calling at seven other rugby league grounds on the way.

The appeal total raised so far is £17,000 and it’s hoped the walk will bring in another £5,000. To donate click HERE

Bev Newton with Panthers fundraisers at a cricket day

Mick, 57, worked for Huddersfield quarrying and building suppliers The Myers Group for more than 20 years but had to give his job up in September so he could care for 63-year-old Bev full-time.

He said: “I’ve lots of friends who work in the trades which is really helping to keep costs on the extension down. We simply couldn’t have done it without them and the Panthers and it’s been really humbling for me and Bev. We can’t thank everyone who has helped enough. We are so lucky to be surrounded and supported by such wonderful people.”

Bev’s symptoms first surfaced during Covid lockdown when relatives noticed she’d started to slur her words and she was finally diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) last November.

Mick said: “Bev went through hell enduring the tests and volunteered to go on trials to ultimately help other people who will be diagnosed with MND in the future.”

The couple have been together for more than 20 years and have six children and eight grandchildren between them but the diagnosis spurred them on to get married which they did at Easter this year.

Mick revealed: “When we were given the diagnosis Bev told me she wanted to be able to say her marriage vows before she started to lose her speech so we arranged the wedding for April. It was a wonderful day.”

Mick and Bev Newton on their wedding day

Bev has since lost a lot of her mobility with severe weakness down her left side and is now in a wheelchair around 85% of her time, but can still talk. Her voice has been recorded so if she does lose her speech she can type words into a computer and they will be transformed into her voice.

Bev’s medical care has mainly been at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds and the couple can’t praise the team there highly enough. They’ve helped Bev with her nutrition, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Other fundraisers to boost the appeal have included a golf day at Longley Park Golf Club near Huddersfield town centre, a cricket day at Hall Bower Cricket Club and a hair-raising zipwire slide over a quarry in north Wales.

Motor Neurone Disease is a neurological condition which affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The average life expectancy is just two to five years from the onset of symptoms. A third of people diagnosed die within a year and half within two years.

The Mount Snowden fundraisers from Newsome Panthers

Motor Neurone Disease has been in the headlines recently after Leeds Rhinos rugby league star Rob Burrow was diagnosed with the condition and teammate Kevin Sinfield ran seven ultra marathons in seven days to raise more than £2m, well beyond his target of £777,777 inspired by Rob’s playing number 7.

Rob and his family are wanting to raise £5m to build a specialist MND Care Centre in Leeds to give people living with the illness the best quality of life.

They are now almost halfway there, having raised more than £2.2m.

Just over 40% of the money Kevin has raised will go to the appeal with the rest shared between other MND charities including 41% to the MND Association to use on research projects to take us closer to a world free from MND.

* Copyright for this story belongs to freelance journalist ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire agency AH! PR ( specialising in stories for the media, press releases, blogging, copywriting, scriptwriting and applying for awards.