Family’s fundraiser honours ‘special’ dad

Steve Blakeley, from Leyland, who died of motor neurone disease on July 22, 2013.
Steve Blakeley, from Leyland, who died of motor neurone disease on July 22, 2013.
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A devoted dad and junior football manager who died at the age of 45 will be remembered at a charity night in his honour.

Steve Blakeley, of Heatherleigh, Leyland, lost his battle with motor neurone disease on July 22, just hours after being admitted to St Catherine’s Hospice.

The father-of-two had been diagnosed with the progressive muscle wasting disease in 2009 and was told he had just two to three years to live.

But he continued working as a sales and marketing director and coaching junior teams at Bamber Bridge Whites for as long as he could.

Wife, Jacqui, 41, said: “He could have given up straight away and he didn’t.

“To me, he was somebody really special.

“He carried on working so he could support us and he carried on with the football training as long as he possibly could. He carried on for the children.”

It is not known what causes motor neurone disease and doctors usually diagnose it by ruling out other conditions.

Jacqui, who works as a hairdressing lecturer at Runshaw College, said: “From the beginning, he had clumsiness in his left hand and couldn’t open jars. His grip had gone.

“We went to hospital and they thought it was rheumatoid arthritis.

“It’s hard to diagnose but he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease on my birthday in 2009.

“We had a cry at first, but then he said he didn’t want anyone crying.

“We didn’t talk about it, we just got on with life. He didn’t want it to beat him.”

Steve tried to continue as normally as possible, but the disease progressed until he was unable to speak, eat and walk.

Jacqui is now organising a charity night to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease Association, as well as awareness of the condition.

Around 300 tickets have already been sold for the event, which starts at 7pm on Friday, October 25 at The Pines Hotel, in Clayton-le-Woods.

There will be a red carpet and champagne on arrival, a three-course meal, stiltwalkers, auctions, a raffle, music from a DJ and entertainment by Stephen


Steve’s nurse, Wendy Bennett, will also give a talk about motor neurone disease.

Jacqui said: “Not enough people know about it.

“We need more people doing more research and more money going into research so that we can have a test at least.”