Gordon Aikman: A brave, inspiring man

Gordon Aikman  (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)
Gordon Aikman (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

Tributes are pouring in following the death of Motor Neurone Disease campaigner, Gordon Aikman.

He was just 31 years old.

Gordon Aikman celebrates raising �500,000 for MND (Pic Greg Macvean)

Gordon Aikman celebrates raising �500,000 for MND (Pic Greg Macvean)

Gordon, born in Kirkcaldy, was diagnosed with the terminal condition in 2014, and his response was to launch Gordon’s Fightback – an inspiring campaign that led to the number of MND nurses being doubled, and huge sums raised to help research to try to find a cure for the muscle wasting disease.

His campaign, and the way in which he dealt with his condition, earned support across the country.

He moved and inspired many with his articles on coping with the illness.

Gordon, a former head boy at Kirkcaldy High School, was the director of research at the Better Together independence referendum campaign when he was diagnosed with MND in 2014.

Gordon Aikman (Pic : Lisa Ferguson)

Gordon Aikman (Pic : Lisa Ferguson)

Within 24 hours of his story becoming public, donations totalling more than more than £24,000 poured in – and that figure spiralled as he led the campaign to fundraise to help find a cure for others and ensure adequate care and support for others in the same situation.

Gordon raised over £500,000 for research, and he successfully lobbied First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to double the number of MND nurses and fund them through the NHS.

He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2015 Birthday Honours and an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh University

Mr Aikman, who lived at Meadowbank, married political journalist Joe Pike at a ceremony in the capital in 2015.

News of his passing was announced today.

In a statement, his family said: “We are heartbroken. Gordon was beautiful, kind, funny and utterly determined. He achieved more in the few short years after his diagnosis with MND than many of us do in a lifetime. Gordon’s campaigning and fundraising has truly inspired people, changed lives across Scotland and we are so proud of him. We will miss him terribly.”

Among the many tributes was one from Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour leader, and a close friend.

She said: “Although we all knew time was precious, Gordon’s death comes as a shock. I have lost a best friend and the world has lost a man who made it a better place.

“I will miss Gordon’s smile, his laugh, his energy, his brilliant dance moves and terrible singing voice, and his positive outlook on life despite the hand he was dealt towards the end.

“Gordon’s constant determination to do good for others was an antidote to a world so full of fear and anger. I hope that will be his legacy.”

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister and Kirkcaldy MP, said Gordon was ‘‘so courageous and so determined’’ and his efforts to help others would ‘‘continues to inspire.’’

Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, described him as ‘‘a brave, beautiful man’’ while Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said Gordon was ‘‘a generous, determined and gentle man’’ adding: ‘‘He has left a great legacy.’’