Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Eddie Redmayne's BAFTA award winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the film 'The Theory of Everything' was given essential input from Glenn Phillips a regular visitor to our Starlight Centre.

Glenn, 49, from Bushey,  a former head of Faculty at Oaklands College, St Albans, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in August 2011 welcomed Eddie into his Bushey home in Autumn  2013 to help the 32 year old actor turn his healthy body into Hawking.

Eddie spent hours with Glenn and others with MND, gaining a deeper and crucial understanding of the disease to help his transformation.

While Eddie was preparing for the biggest role of his career, Glenn had been receiving fortnightly Complementary Therapy massage at  our Starlight Centre.  

His deep tissue massage was a welcome boost to Glenn who was one of 1,500 people to benefit from the Starlight Centre services last year.

'Coming to the Starlight Centre had been an essential part of my life,' said Glenn. 'After a Complementary Therapy treatment  it was the only time I could really feel reinvigorated through the sensation of the deep tissue massage.  It is a struggle for me to get to the Starlight Centre now and I really miss the Complementary Therapy and socialising.  It was important to me.'

In addition to using the services at  the Starlight Centre at the Hospice Glenn also set up a local support group within the MNDA South Herts branch where MND sufferers and their carers meet monthly in Hemel Hempstead.  Glenn also continues to raise awareness of MND.

The UK release of The Theory of Everything in January 2015 has pushed Motor Neurone Disease into the public eye and Eddie Redmayne's portrayal of Hawking has been described as 'the performance of his lifetime.'  But despite Hollywood fame, awards and Oscar nominations, Eddie did not forget Glenn's contribution.

In February he offered Glenn and his friends and family, a private screening invitation in the West End. Glenn was also invited to the premiere. Disappointingly, his booked transport did not arrive and Glenn missed the once in a lifetime moment.

'It is great news to see Eddie is picking up awards,' said Glenn who for the past year has needed 24 hour care for his deteriorating condition.  He took the role very seriously.  In my home we talked in great detail about MND and Eddie made sure that physically everything was right in the script according to living with MND.  It is a terrible illness.  A living hell.  I rely on my carer Marta and a team of carers who work round the clock to do absolutely everything. There is nothing I can do for myself anymore.'

Glenn hopes 'The Theory of Everything'  will help raise awareness of MND and that those who are diagnosed in the future get greater support with every aspect of their health and social care.

Glenn, has been featured on Channel 5 and national newspapers discussing his contribution towards motivating Eddie and raising awareness of the Motor Neurone Disease. Glenn's name also appears on the credits on the film.

The Starlight Centre at Peace Hospice care offers supports to patients at an earlier stage of their illness and offers support, to people surviving and living with life limiting conditions.

For further information on the Starlight Centre's programme of short courses, complementary therapies and workshops contact 01923 330330 or starlightcentre@peacehospicecare.org.uk

To find out more about the  MND  support group for people with MND and their carers in the South Herts Area, please contact Jenny Fellas by email:  chris_jennyfellas@hotmail.com