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A MND sufferer who had fallen on hard times is now living his best life back home in Fort William thanks to the generosity of the local community.
Barry Alexander-Macdonald (formerly Cumming) now wants to thank everyone who helped him fund a dream wedding for himself and his wife Rebekah, which took place on February 19 this year at Kilmallie Community Centre.
The 37-year-old, who has battled with alcohol addiction for most of his adult life, moved to Inverness in 2012 but found his life spiralling out of control. A spell in Castle Craig drug and alcohol rehabilitation hospital in 2016 helped Barry get his life back on track.
‘I overcame my addiction and am proud of the person I have turned out to be,’ he said. It has taken a lot to get me to this point.’
It was when Barry was ready to take his driving test for the first time that he noticed he was having problems with his legs. He couldn’t push down on the pedals and sought advice from a doctor. It took two years for him to be diagnosed with the devastating illness motor neurone disease – in April 2021, just five months before the birth of his first child Kyle.
‘It was really hard to take in especially as we had a baby on the way,’ said Barry, who was given a prognosis of having two to four years to live.
‘I try to look beyond what is happening though. I don’t intend going anywhere in a hurry – you’ve got to fight the fight.’
With the help of MND Scotland and Inverness MP Drew Hendry, Barry and Rebekah managed to secure temporary housing in Fort William so that he could benefit from the support of family and friends, and in December last year the trio moved into a permanent home.
In the meantime family friend and local humanist celebrant Alyson Stewart had been busy rallying support on social media so that the couple could have a dream wedding.
‘It was done with the support of so many in this community who pledged their time and services, and also gave their own gold to be melted down to make Barry and Bekah’s rings,’ said Alyson.
Local photographer John Paul Peebles was one of many to offer his services for free. He told us: ‘This was something I was happy to do for them especially when they’re going through such an unthinkable time.
‘Fort William has always had a great sense of community and after living here for seven years and witnessing on many occasions the locals going above and beyond for people in need, I’m happy when there’s something I can do to give back.’
Barry contacted the Lochaber Times last week as he and Rebekah want to thank everyone involved in making their special day even more special.
‘I just don’t know how to thank everybody and show my appreciation for what they have done,’ he told us.
‘The people who donated were so many. The Kinky Karma band, Marina MacLeod bridal, Donald Macpherson vintage car, AA Taxis for grooms cars, Ali Stephenson for piping, Sharon Cameron Slainte Mhath wedding decor, John Paul Peebles of abrightside photography, Danny @Rizzo wedding videos and Ross @ross_scobie, flowers by Macdonald bros, Catherine Sinclair for wedding cake and so many other companies.
‘There was also a fundraiser and auction to which members of the public also contributed.
‘In such a small town it’s unbelievable. What a great community full of good people. We both truly appreciated everything that was done for us and could not thank everyone enough for making our big day happen.
‘I am going to enjoy some quality time with my family now.’