Mum’s marathon mission to raise palsy awareness

Amanda Duncan, aged 28 is raising money for Facial Palsy UK with a six hour rowing challenge at Palatine Leisure Centre, Blackpool.'7th March 2015
Amanda Duncan, aged 28 is raising money for Facial Palsy UK with a six hour rowing challenge at Palatine Leisure Centre, Blackpool.'7th March 2015
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Six hours on a rowing 
machine is not how most people would choose to spend their Saturday, but for mum-of-two Amanda Duncan it was something she was determined to do.

The 28-year-old managed to complete her six-hour rowing challenge, at Palatine Leisure Centre in South Shore, to mark Facial Palsy Awareness Week and raise money for Facial Palsy UK.

Amanda was left unable to move the right side of her face following the birth of her second daughter. She was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy, the same condition which affected X Factor winner Sam Bailey.

Amanda, who also has a two-year-old daughter, Alexia, used to live in North Shore, but recently moved to Edinburgh with her husband Graeme, who is in the Navy.

She said money was still coming in from her fund-raising challenge, but she estimated she had raised around £500.

She said: “It went really well. I didn’t have an ideal start as my daughter woke me up at 3am and again at 5.30am, but I managed it. It was thanks to all the support I had from my family and friends and people at the leisure centre – that’s what kept me going. Everyone was fantastic, the gym manager and instructor kept popping in to check on me and see I was doing OK, and encouraging me.

“I’m really pleased, not only with the money raised for the charity, but also the fact my challenge has hopefully raised some awareness.”

Eight months after Amanda was struck down with the condition, she still cannot blink or smile properly.

“My muscles are slowly tightening up, which is making it harder to get my face working properly again. Bell’s Palsy is just one of around 30 types of paralysis which can happen to the face.

“It’s a very scary time for anybody who has any facial palsy, and there isn’t enough research or awareness into this.”

When Amanda first experienced tingling sensations in her face and could not taste anything, shortly after her daughter Liliana was born in May, she put it down to stress and tiredness.

It was after the whole right side of her face dropped she called an ambulance, fearing she was suffering a stroke.

After 10 hours in hospital, she was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy.

She was referred to a physio, and given some facial massages to try at home, but felt largely alone.

Amanda said: “Facial Palsy UK have been excellent at making me feel good about myself, and helping me understand this better.

“The charity has restored some the self-esteem I lost, and they have built my confidence back up.”

Amanda’s mum, Brenda Crossley, 55, of Egerton Road, North Shore, said she was really proud of Amanda for her efforts.

“She did really well. The staff at the leisure centre were all great and leisure centre users were coming over, making donations.

“We really hope to have raised awareness of facial palsy. It’s one of those conditions where when you start talking to people about it, you find out a lot of people have heard of it, or know someone affected by it.

“It’s really important people know about it and the signs and symptoms, because early treatment can give more chance of recovery.

“It’s not unusual after childbirth, yet no one warned Amanda to look out for it.”

To help support Amanda, visit www.justgiving.com/amanda-duncan3