Caring neighbour Jan wins national acclaim

Leven teacher Jan McDonald, right, who was highly commended at MS Society national awards. From left to right) TV personality Jay Rayner Kirsten McDonald (Jan's daughter) Kitty Walker and Jan McDonald.
Leven teacher Jan McDonald, right, who was highly commended at MS Society national awards. From left to right) TV personality Jay Rayner Kirsten McDonald (Jan's daughter) Kitty Walker and Jan McDonald.

A LEVEN woman was highly commended at a national awards ceremony in London for caring for her neighbour with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Jan McDonald (58) was one of three people shortlisted last week in the MS Carer of the Year category, sponsored by Hollister Limited, at the MS Society Awards.

She just missed out on the top title – but the judges were so impressed with her efforts, they decided still to reward and recognise her hard work.

For over a decade, local teacher Jan took on the care of neighbour Kitty Walker, who has MS.

Jan (top, pictured with Kitty) assumed the duties of washing, dressing and feeding her, and eventually moved Kitty into her home.

Despite having ME (Myalgic encephalomyelitis), a chronic fatigue condition, Jan took on the responsibility of appealing for the right benefits for her neighbour – a battle which lasted over a year.

As a result, she successfully helped Kitty receive the necessary funding for her needs, which included a power wheelchair and hoists to get her in and out of bed.

In her role as carer, Jan also planned pamper breaks, rambling holidays across the UK for Kitty and a group of people from the Fife branch of the MS Society, while she also took Kitty on canoe trips, helicopter rides and a trip to Boston.

Jan said: ‘It’s been absolutely exciting and overwhelming to be recognised as a carer.

“It is important for carers to be recognised and valued this way. Kitty tells me all the time how much she appreciates me, but many other carers out there don’t get to hear this. The awards are a good way of recognising the role of carers.”

Rob Walsh, marketing director for continence care at Hollister Limited said: “Our philosophy is about putting people first – something Jan does daily as a carer, showing commitment and selflessness.”