Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brave Michael Finally Loses His Fight for Life; I Miss Him like Crazy, Says Grieving Mum

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Brave Michael Finally Loses His Fight for Life; I Miss Him like Crazy, Says Grieving Mum

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul James Chief Reporter

A MAN whose fight to enjoy life defied the doctors and inspired the North East has finally succumbed to his debilitating illness.

Michael Ford was told he would not reach 18 after being diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at three, but fought through pain and adversity to reach university and live to 26.

Sports-mad Michael, of Bedlington, Northumberland, won a Diana Princess of Wales Award and was asked to carry the Commonwealth Games baton when it passed through Ashington in 2002.

His popularity was such that teachers from his St Benet Biscop High School would come to his house when he was ill and Northumbria University kept his place open when he became too ill to study.

Yesterday his devastated mother Ellen, 60, spoke of the void left in her life.

Speaking from the family home in Netherdale, Bedlington, she said: "I miss him like crazy already. This house has always been warm, but since he left, it's icy cold and I can't warm it up. He had such a presence in this house and it just feels so empty now.

"Michael was an absolutely wonderful friend and companion to me, so clever and witty. He used to have me in stitches.

"He loved life and he loved people who were nice to him."

Mrs Ford is carrying out Michael's wishes for his funeral on Thursday, which will be a private family occasion. She is also trying to organise for his ashes to be spread partly on the pitch at Newcastle United's St James's Park and also on the West Coast of Scotland, which her son saw on television.

Michael was diagnosed at three and Mrs Ford said that by the age of five he demanded to know why he had to carry out his daily exercises. After being told the consequences of not doing them, he returned home every night demanding she join him.

He became wheelchair-bound at seven and was left in near-constant pain from the age of 12 after complications with spinal surgery.

Michael attended Woodlawn School in West Monkseaton, North Tyneside, then Seaton Hirst Middle School, Ashington, before taking GCSEs and A-levels at St Benet Biscop and reading social sciences at Northumbria. …

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