Group gave illness support to families

GATHER: The support group gather to  celebrate the last 30 years.
GATHER: The support group gather to celebrate the last 30 years.

Bendigo's long-standing Motor Neurone Disease support group will disperse after almost 30 years of existence.

The group has long given support to families and loved ones of people suffering from the debilitating disease.

They also did fundraising for relating charities. 

Group leader Julie Ruff understood the struggle better than anyone as she battled the disease alongside her husband Ron.

The group became very important for Ms Ruff as the sickness developed.

"I lost my husband almost three years ago," she said.

"Without the support of the Motor Neurone Association it would have been so much harder.

"It was extremely difficult for everyone but with the support of our regional adviser Eric Kelly, it was better.

"They helped with paying for hospital beds, advice and emotional support.

"And gave us lots of information regarding proper feeding."

Ms Ruff said the group supported mainly the Motor Neurone Association with their fundraising.

She said the support was important for sufferers and their families.

The disease is degenerative and there is no cure.

Ms Ruff said Motor Neurone was a disease that affected all muscles and the connections to the brain causing speech impediments and decreased muscle control.

"People end up unable to do anything, basically," she said.

She said it was sad "the sufferers themselves don't live to tell the tale" of the disease so the family most carry on doing so.

Motor Neurone Disease Association Victoria regional advisor Eric Kelly said the support group would remain active in the community and continue its fundraising to support the national group.

"The support group has offered continuous support for 29 years after it first met in September of 1985," he said.

"During this time there has been valuable funds raised to support people who live with MND by purchasing equipment.

"There has been much valued awareness of how MND affects people, families and communities and also direct support given to people living with MND."

The Bendigo group has raised more than $55,000 to contribute towards research into the disease in its 30-year history. 

Ms Ruff said the group still intended to raise money for MND research.

For more information on the disease, contact 1800 806 632 or visit