January 2017, Sunday Times
December 2016, Sunday Times
November 2016, Sunday Times
As the food bank volunteer turns away, Katie rips open the nearest can. Her bare hand plunges into a cold tin of beans. Shaking uncontrollably, sauce dripping down her chin, she drops to her knees, crying hysterically. The young single mother has not eaten for days, forgoing what little she has to feed her two young kids. Her desperation, terror and shame are palpable. It is raw, visceral stuff. A grown woman reduced to behaving like a feral animal.
October 2016, Sunday Times
Bang! Two players collide, head-on, at speed. Wheelchair basketball is fast and ferocious. The players tear around the court, crash and are regularly thrown to the floor. I feel myself nudging my wheelchair closer and closer to the TV screen. Adrenaline coursing through my body, I am taken back to my childhood. For a second I am there on the court, screeching down the line, ready for a pass…
September 2016, Sunday Times
“Was it peaceful?” It is the question well-wishers at a funeral always ask. I can tell you now, with near certainty, my death will indeed be peaceful. I will be in my own home, lying in my own bed, surrounded by those I love. As my breaths become shallower I will drift in and out of consciousness. My breathing will slow and eventually cease. It is the death most of us would hope for. My final scene has been written, bringing comfort each time it plays in my mind.
July 2016, Sunday Times
“No treatment, no cure, nothing.” Those words &emdash; from the day I was diagnosed &emdash; still routinely echo around my head. At the moment I take pills I know do nothing. Pills that simply numb the pain. A futile routine I repeat twice daily. I imagine opening my pillbox to take a small capsule of hope &emdash; a drug that has the potential to do something. Maybe, just maybe in my lifetime. It makes my heart flutter.
June 2016, Sunday Times
My recollection remains as clear today as ever: the pain in my doctor’s eyes as he broke the news. Everything else had been ruled out; it was motor neurone disease (MND). The neurologist revealed delicately that there was no treatment, no cure, nothing he could do. At 29 I got not just a diagnosis, but a death sentence.
May 2016, Sunday Times
“Uncle Gordon, three, two, one, go!” My nephew is counting me down. It’s my turn to race him down the hill. He’s on his bike, I’m in my wheelchair. The sun is shining, the smell of hamburgers lingers in the air from our barbecue, delight fills his wee face. It is a golden moment of unadulterated joy. Pure happiness, despite it all. This is it. This is why it is worth the fight.
April 2016, Sunday Times
“Mummy, mummy, why does… that man…” his voice trails off but his eyes remain fixed. The wee boy walks the length of the beach with his neck craned around 180 degrees to stare back at me. His mother smiles politely and hurries him along.
March 2016, Sunday Times
An endless conveyor belt of unfamiliar faces visit me at home to help can be wearing — so it is an utter joy to meet a specialist MND nurse whose post was created thanks to our campaign.
February 2016, Sunday Times
February 2016, Sunday Times
January 2016, Sunday Times
With confidence in politicians and the establishment at rock bottom, FoI helps redress the balance between powerful politicians and a powerless public. Democracy works only if it’s transparent. It is an unwise and cowardly government that dares dilute our right to know.
December 2015, Sunday Times
Today is my quarterly trip to the motor neurone disease clinic. These visits can be depressingly formulaic, simply discussing how much worse I have got, with no hope of a cure. Today is different. After my appointment, I meet Danielle, a young, friendly, enthusiastic MND researcher. Her post exists only because of donations people have made to my campaign. Amazing. For people like me, it is people like Danielle who offer hope.
December 2015, The Herald Magazine
November 2015, Sunday Times
It’s 2.45pm. I am slumped backwards over the arm of my wheelchair. My back is arched. My skull dangles inches from the floor. My limp arms offer no help. My head begins to flood with blood. How am I going to get myself out of this mess? I desperately try to sit up. My stomach muscles refuse to engage. I try to pull myself up. My hands refuse to grip. I am like a puppet that has had its strings cut. I am going nowhere.
October 2015, Sunday Times
THEY get me out of bed. They wash, dry and dress me. They make my breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner too. They physically feed me. They administer my cocktail of drugs. They help me on and off the loo. They are my hands, arms and legs. They are my independence, my freedom. Paralysed by the terminal, progressive and debilitating motor neurone disease, I am dependent on carers.
September 2015, Sunday Times
I have travelled the world, most recently to Syria and Russia. I have swum with – and been chased by – sharks which mutate Transformer-style into drones. I have run so fast that I have flown with birds.
I tend not to remember my dreams. Morphine, named after Morpheus the Greek god of dreams, not only numbs my pain but gives me vivid night-time experiences of unparalleled intensity in rich technicolour.
August 2015, Sunday Times
July 2015, Sunday Times
June 2015, Sunday Times
“I am pleased to have met you – but I wish I’d never had to.” Those were the words of one of my carers earlier this week, someone I would genuinely call a friend. A friend I would never have met if I were not dying.
A year has passed since I was diagnosed at 29 years old with motor neurone disease (MND)
May 2015, Sunday Times
Imagine not being able to say the words “I love you”. No, seriously, stop and consider for a moment permanently losing your voice, never again able to utter a single word. Not able to say yes or no, hello or goodbye. Unable to scream for help.
For me, that prospect is frighteningly real – and the stark, painful reality for thousands of motor neurone disease (MND) patients across the UK.
April 2015, Sunday Times
“When your legs don’t work like they used to before. And I can’t sweep you off of your feet.” Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud must be a rare choice for the first dance at a wedding. Yet for my partner and I, it struck a chord. The lyrics are about two people growing old together, something we know sadly we will never do.
“Why bother with a first dance? Save yourself the indignity,” was the advice. But at the last minute, we did it. Crutch in one hand, I clung to my husband with the other. It was more of an awkward shuffle than dancing, but we did it. It was our first dance.
Disability now affects every aspect of my life. That is what motor neurone disease (MND) does. The progressive nature of the condition means challenges keep on coming, but I take comfort in knowing that today is my best day, my healthiest day. It is that mindset that gets me out of bed in the morning.
March 2015, Sunday Times
I have been invited to introduce Ed Miliband at Scottish Labour conference, and I am running dangerously late. The taxi driver twizzles his screwdriver in what seems like a well-rehearsed act.
“Sorry pal,” he mutters, “it’s seized.” He points at the ramp and shrugs his shoulders. Wind howling, rain pouring, I wait, frozen, in my wheelchair. The clock is ticking.
Three taxis later, I arrive. A friend rushes over: “They couldn’t wait any longer; they had to put him on.”
February 2015, Sunday Times
“WAS he in an accident as a child?” blurts the wheelchair assistant at Heathrow, looking to my partner. People are understandably curious, most are more tactful, but everybody – and I mean everybody – stares. Why is a healthy-looking 29-year-old guy in a wheelchair? I know what it is called, but nobody knows why I have got it.
Last week I set off on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington. As a politics geek, DC has always been on my to-do list. Nobody does politics like the Americans. There was, however, one condition: I take my wheelchair.
January 2015, Sunday Times
"It's called Motor Neurone Disease. Life expectancy is two years."" Watching Eddie Redmayne in the cinematic retelling of Stephen Hawking’s life, I am instantly transported to the moment I received my own death sentence.
That day in June last year will never leave me. I vividly remember the pain in the doctor’s eyes as he told me, at just 29 years old, that my time was almost up. Nothing can prepare you for it.
Motor Neurone Disease is a progressive condition that attacks the nerves, weakening the muscles, which gradually waste away. It affects around 5,000 people in the UK at any given time.
December 2014, Scotland on Sunday
"AMAZING!" "Well done!"" My phone beeps incessantly. It’s 8am. I wake up to a stream of messages. “Get you!” reads one. Groggy, confused, bleary eyed, I stare at my phone: "You’ve hit £5k: you need to up your target!"
In June I wrote in Scotland on Sunday about my shock diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease. MND is a progressive and debilitating condition that attacks the nerves and spinal cord. It is systematically weakening every muscle in my body and this will continue until I am paralysed. But my brain and thinking is likely to remain unaffected.
My aim was to raise what I could to help find a cure. I set up a JustGiving page, but could never have predicted what happened next. In one day: £20,000. My head was in a whirl. Something amazing was happening. And people – strangers – were helping. I was dying at the age of 29, but I was fighting back.
December 2014, Daily Record
"YOU been in the wars, son?" asks the security guy as I hobble through the metal detector at Edinburgh Airport, setting off the alarm.
You could say that," I reply under my breath. 'It’s Motor Neurone Disease.' He frowns, confused, holding my gaze, then his face lights up: “Ah. The Ice Bucket Challenge disease."
I smile: "Exactly."
The Ice Bucket Challenge took the world by storm this summer. Even at the most tense and vicious stages of the independence referendum battle, campaigners from both sides paused to drench each other with freezing water.
June 2014, Scotland on Sunday
MOTOR Neurone Disease is a death sentence for Gordon Aikman. But he is determined that it will make his life all the more precious
I am lying on a cold hospital bed, stripped down with electrodes stuck all over my skin. A doctor quietly takes notes as pulses race through my body. After almost an hour I get back into my suit, ready for a packed day of calls and meetings. The doctor steps out to speak to my consultant.
I flick through the morning’s headlines on Twitter and quickly check my email as I wait. In my job as director of research at Better Together, I have got to be up to date. The doctor is gone some time. My appointment has already overrun. I’m irritated.
He returns and says: “Your neurologist would like to see you at 1.15 tomorrow.”
December 2016 – Fife Free Press
Fifers of the Year
December 2016 – The Courier
Impact 100: The people who inspire us, challenge us and change our world
June 2016 – Scottish Charity Awards
April 2016 – Scottish Press Awards
Columnist of the Year – Nominee
March 2016 – Edinburgh University Students' Association
Outstanding Achievement Award
January 2016 – Fife Free Press
Fifers of 2015
November 2015 – The Herald
Politician of the Year: Public Campaigner of the Year
August 2015 – Kingdom FM
Local Hero Award
July 2015 – University of Edinburgh
Honorary degree: Doctor honoris causa
June 2015 – The Queen’s Birthday Honours
British Empire Medal
June 2015 – Independent on Sunday
Happy List: 100 inspirational heroes
May 2015 – Daily Record
Our Fundraising Hero & Overall Our Hero
March 2015 – Prime Minister Rt Hon David Cameron MP
Points of Light Award
January 2015 – Fife Free Press
Fifers who made an impact: Number 1
February 2015 – Halifax
Giving Extra Award: Scotland Winner
December 2014 – Edinburgh Evening News
Edinburgh's Hot 40
November 2014 – The Herald
Politician of the Year: Judges’ Award
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