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Gerry Savage with her horse Blue at her stables at Foggathorpe.
11 June 2008
GERRY SAVAGE has ridden all her life, competing, hunting and generally enjoying her four horses. Then a year ago she was diagnosed with a debilitating neurological disorder, cerebella ataxia.
The illness means that sometimes she cannot walk or balance correctly and her vision is also affected.
Despite this, Gerry has not stopped riding and she now competes as a Para rider in both RDA and British Dressage competitions.
She recently qualified for the national RDA championships to be held at Hartpury College in July. Gerry was born in Dublin and she has also been invited to go and train with the Irish Para equestrian team in July for three days.
It took a while for Gerry's illness to be diagnosed but she was determined to keep on riding and decided to concentrate on dressage, something she had not done before.
"I have found it hard but I love it and it gives me a focus," said Gerry, who lives at Foggathorpe near Holme on Spalding Moor, York.
"I have to have someone to help me get on and off and I ride with different stirrups and sometimes I have a neck strap if my balance isn't good."
She needs to use crutches around the stable yard and for any distance she uses a wheelchair.
Gerry rides her seven-year-old grey mare, Blue, and is coached by Natalie Roberts, a local instructor.
On days when Gerry is unable to ride, show rider Jane Collins rides the horse for her at home. Gerry also has support from her neighbour Rowena Morgan, who helps her with mounting and dismounting and assists at competitions.
Gerry's husband Mark, who is a fireman and also runs a part-time horse transport business, ferries Gerry to all her competitions and training days.
"I really enjoy competing although at times it can be extremely hard," said Gerry. "I'm hopefully looking forward to further success in July."
A warning from Della Horn, who runs the Naburn Grange Riding Centre near York, about a gang of horse thieves going round the country and stealing horses to order. They have been operating in other parts of the country, including Staffordshire, and there are fears that they could be targetting North Yorkshire.
The police have been alerted, says Della, but she is concerned that owners should be made aware of the danger.
"There have been sightings of cars and vans in North Yorkshire and people getting out and taking photos and videos of horses. People should make sure that their horses and their tack have been identichipped."
Hope Pastures Horse and Pony Sanctuary in Leeds is asking for help for its Ragwort Attack, to be held on June 22.
"Our aim is to rid the fields of ragwort so that the rescued animals can graze safely. We could just mow the fields but this sometimes stimulates growth and the poisonous weed spreads. The only effective way to remove it is by digging it out and disposing of it safely," said Sue Huggins, a trustee.
They plan to work in teams and ask volunteers to turn up in suitable footwear and clothing and to bring protective gloves with them if they have them.
Lunch will be provided. If you would like to help call Sue on 07979 305 732 or Sophie on 0113 2614344.
If you feel like reading an unputdownable novel while collaborating with a just and solidary cause, "The Legacy of Marie Schlau" is your book! 100% of all funds raised will be dedicated to medical research to find a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia, a neurodegenerative disease that affects mostly young people, shortening their life expectancy and confining them to a wheelchair.
The life of Marie Schlau, a German Jewish girl born in 1833 hides great unsolved mysteries: accidents, disappearances, enigmas, unknown diagnoses, disturbing murders, love, tenderness, greed, lies, death ... alternatively a different story unfolds every time and takes us closer to the present. Thus, there are two parallel stories unravelling, each in a different age and place, which surprisingly converge in a revelatory chapter.
Paperback and Kindle versions for "The legacy of Marie Schlau" available for sale at Amazon now!
Currently, BabelFAmily is financing two promising research projects aimed at finding a cure for Friedreich's Ataxia. Whenever you make a donation to us or purchase a copy of "The legacy of Marie Schlau", this is where all funds raised will be devoted to:
1) Gene Therapy for Friedreich's Ataxia research project:
The project is the result of an initiative of Spanish people affected by this rare disease who are grouped in GENEFA in collaboration with the Spanish Federation of Ataxias and the BabelFAmily. The Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA), one of the main patients’ associations in the United States now joins the endeavour.
2) Frataxin delivery research project:
The associations of patients and families Babel Family and the Asociación Granadina de la Ataxia de Friedreich (ASOGAF) channel 80,000 euros of their donations (50% from each organisation) into a new 18-month project at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona). The project specifically aims to complete a step necessary in order to move towards a future frataxin replacement therapy for the brain, where the reduction of this protein causes the most damage in patients with Friedreich’s Ataxia.
The study is headed by Ernest Giralt, head of the Peptides and Proteins Lab, who has many years of experience and is a recognised expert in peptide chemistry and new systems of through which to delivery drugs to the brain, such as peptide shuttles—molecules that have the capacity to carry the drug across the barrier that surrounds and protects the brain. Since the lab started its relation with these patients’ associations in 2013*, it has been developing another two projects into Friedrich’s Ataxia.