Charity hands cash to research

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A charity set up in memory of Nick Smith, a 38-year-old from Lightcliffe who died from Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in December 2017, has donated £50,000 for research into the condition.

The Nick Smith Foundation, formed a year ago by the dad-of-two’s family and friends, pledged to support the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) and their pioneering work to find out more about the condition and continue their efforts to find treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

The £50,000 target has now been reached and, ahead of the charity’s first anniversary, Nick’s wife Rachel and some of the Foundation’s Trustees visited the research centre in South Yorkshire to handover the money and find out more about the support it will provide.

The donation will go towards the purchase of a new piece of equipment, a Nanostring Ncounter. The state-of-the-art machine is a research tool which supports the work to find out more about MND and, crucially, about what is needed to change the way the disease develops.

Professor Dame Pamela Shaw, Director and Founder of SITraN, accepted the money on behalf of the centre.

She said: “This wonderful donation from The Nick Smith Foundation is being used to provide cutting edge scientific equipment for the research teams within the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience (SITraN) as they work hard to understand the mechanisms of motor neurone injury in MND and develop new treatment approaches to heal and protect these precious cells.

“The Nanostring machine enables us to message the level of expression of many different genes in MND cells compared to healthy cells which gives us a very important picture of the disease process.

“The support of the Foundation team and all of those good-hearted people who have given their support is hugely appreciated by all of the researchers within SITraN. Thank you so much for your generosity and for helping our research effort in such a significant way.”

In the year since the Nick Smith Foundation was formed, hundreds of people have been involved in fundraising. From raffles to rugby league tournaments and the Three Peaks to the Great North Run, tens of thousands of pounds has been raised.

As well as backing research into MND, the charity supports children having to face the death of a parent at a young age and encourages children to take up rugby league – the sport Nick loved.

Stephen Naylor, Nick’s brother-in-law, chairs The Nick Smith Foundation. He said: “In the 18 months since Nick died, we have had a shared determination to ensure his legacy lives on.

“This charity, in his memory and his name, is already making a difference and we know this £50,000 donation to the amazing SITraN in Sheffield will make a real difference to the fight to smash MND.

“On behalf of Nick’s wife Rachel, and all the Trustees of the charity, I want to thank every single person, organisation and company who has raised money, donated and supported us over the past 12 months.

“Much more is planned for the rest of 2019 and the continued support for The Nick Smith Foundation, and our family, is appreciated more than we can ever say.”

More information about the charity can be found online at www.nicksmithfoundation.org.uk.