1970s pals’ reunion to support Sheffield Motor Neurone Disease sufferer

Childhood friends of a Sheffield bank worker are reforming their old basketball team – to support their old pal after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 1:17 pm

Martin Kelly’s old pals from the 1970s are walking over 60 miles in support of their old team captain, from his home in the city to his old school.

Martin, who worked for NatWest bank, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in 2017. It is a fatal rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, attacking the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work. There is no cure.

Martin’s old pals will walk through the Peak District and back to John Port School near Derby in five days to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Two old team members plan equivalent walks in Germany and USA after travel restrictions prevented a full reunion.

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Amit and Martin pictured before the walk

The group originally hoped to raise £10000. They have already raised double that.

Martin said: ‘I’m touched that all my old friends want to give their time, money and endeavour to support me and the wider MND cause, in this way. It’s also been great keeping up to date with their training and other stuff. I think everyone has already got a lot out of this project, in many ways.’

The full John Port School Basketball team completing the UK walk consists of Peter Mills and his family Mary, Chris and Becky Mills, Amit Rawal, Nick Richardson, Jon Cunningham, and honorary teammates Harold Thornton who didn’t play but was and remains close friends with the team and Richard Dorman a close friend of Martin Kelly.

Martin will join the team for a section of the first day's walk and will be ready to greet them as they make the final walk to return to school.

martin and Amit (13) pictured in their basketball days

Peter, who organised the walk, said: “I cannot begin to imagine how isolating MND is. But in a small way, the Whatsapp group, the ongoing communication, joshing and general chat with the boys, must add value to Martin’s day.

"The walk has benefits far beyond the walk itself and the money raised.”

“As for the fundraising, there is a warm feeling amongst us all we are adding fuel to the search for a cure”.