A COUPLE from Solihull are starring in a new photography exhibition to highlight the impact of loneliness and isolation on those with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Supported by Mumford and Sons bassist Ted Dwane and celebrity photographer Louis Browne, the exhibition showcases people affected by the condition in its various forms.
Neil Faultless, aged 38, has the relapsing form of MS and after developing a rare viral disease of the brain linked to his condition he is nearly blind, has lost the use of one arm, and uses a wheelchair.
His wife, Jo said: “Neil and I started going out when we were 17. He was a real gadget guy, a class clown, he never sat still. I look back and it’s like we were different people – we had well paid jobs and travelled the world, drove fancy cars.
“MS ripped our lives apart, completely devastated us. Now we’re living day to day on benefits and have lost pretty much all of our friends. Very few people have the patience to deal with us.
“Until very recently we weren’t even speaking to Neil’s mum and dad, it was just us against the world.
“Thankfully we’re back in touch with them now, but having that contact again made me realise just how lonely we were, and how bad it was.
“If it wasn’t for Neil’s amazing sense of humour I don’t know how we would’ve coped.”
MS is unpredictable and different for everyone, and can cause problems with how people walk, move, see, think and feel.
Speaking about his involvement in the campaign, Ted Dwane commented: “Mum was diagnosed at around the time I started touring, and my sister moved to Australia.
“It was a period of huge change for my parents and we weren’t there for them in the way we wanted to be.
“I’m still away a lot, but back then it was especially hard because my parents were just coming to terms with the diagnosis.
“Having the right support can change everything, and ultimately both my sister and I made a conscious decision to move back closer to home.
“A lot of people with MS simply don’t have that network, and can end up feeling totally left out of society.”
Research conducted by charity MS Society found three in five people with MS feel lonely because of their condition.
The findings led the MS Society to create ‘The MS Connection’ – a new exhibition featuring 19 people affected by MS from all over the UK.
It’s expected to tour the UK next year with the help of local MS society groups.
For more visit www.mssociety.org.uk or call 0808 800 8000.