A DYING man bravely battled a crippling illness to see his granddaughter reach her fourth birthday – then tragically passed away the very next day.

Jim Hunter spent the last four months of his life paralysed from the neck down in a specialist rotating chair in which he was washed, fed and slept.

The motor neurone disease sufferer was driven on by a determination to see Lily celebrate her special day and clung to life just long enough to spend it by her side.

Despite losing most of his power of speech, Jim, 60, from Roystonhill in Glasgow, courageously joined other family members to sing happy birthday to the youngster.

Glasgow Times:

Jim's son Jamie, who is also Lily's father, says his dad was determined to say his special goodbye.

He added: “Dad doted on his family, and despite knowing he was dying, he wasn’t going anywhere until he had enjoyed Lily’s birthday. I know in my heart that he held on for her.

“It was very emotional because we were trying to put on a brave face for him. He kept saying he wanted to live long enough to see Lily’s birthday and was determined that he wasn't going to pass away on that day either.

“Dad was always thinking of others, even right up until the very end. We watched MND rob him of his independence, but dad always tried to make life easier for us. He knew what he was facing but somehow, he still managed to keep smiling. He never lost his sense of humour and had a smile on his face until the very end.

“He was just remarkable, the bravest person I know. I’m grateful that Lily will have special memories to hold on to of her granddad and she’ll always know just how amazing and brave he was.”

Glasgow Times:

Sadly, Jim lost his battle with the terminal illness on March 9 - the day after Lily’s turned four.

MND stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles and causes difficulty walking, talking, eating or breathing unaided. The disease slowly robbed Jim of his mobility, leaving his unable to move and confined to a chair for the last precious months of his life. 

The dad-of-four worked as a concierge with Maryhill Housing Association and was a keen athlete, often cycling 30 miles a day before his diagnosis.

Glasgow Times:

Jamie, 31, said: “Less than a year after experiencing his first symptom, dad was paralysed from the neck down. He spent the last four months in the chair, which was able to turn into a bed.

“It was a lifeline for him. He couldn’t move but it provided some comfort and we’re forever grateful for that.

“It was hard to watch dad go from being fit and active to being stuck in a chair round-the-clock. He was always on the go and loved being active. He took a real pride in his fitness, and it was just devasting to watch him deteriorate in front of our eyes.

“Dad would always try to be brave, but it must have been so difficult for him. His brain was as sharp as ever, but his body simply lost the ability to move. The decline happened so quickly, and we just felt helpless seeing him in such pain.”

Glasgow Times:

Jim, who lived with wife Roseanne, 58, first noticed something was wrong when he started walking with a slightly dropped foot. His symptoms advanced rapidly, and he passed away within 12 months.

Despite knowing just how devasting MND can be, Jim was determined to put on a brave face for his family.

Jamie, who is also dad to one-year-old Adam, said: “I know deep down that dad was devasted and the reality of the situation was hard to accept. He said he used to dream about walking again.

“My parents always wanted to retire to Tenerife, but that dream was snatched away from them. Dad worked hard all his life and never got the chance to enjoy those final days in the sun."

To raise funds for MND Scotland, Jamie, his brother Steven and friends James McLennan and Jordan Sidley live-streamed themselves playing the popular console game Call of Duty: Warzone for 24 hours straight. In tribute to Jim, they never moved from their chairs.

Jamie added: “It was important for our family to give something back as we know just how cruel MND is. Dad was stuck in a chair for so many months, and I know how difficult that was for him.

“We managed to raise £2285 in total, which shows just what people thought of my father and how special he was to so many."

Glasgow Times:

MND Scotland CEO Rachel Maitland thanked the group for the funds raised through the challenge.

She added: “It’s always heart-breaking to hear of another life being cut short by MND, but I am glad that our team was able to support Jim and his family during what must have been an immensely difficult time for them.

“The money they have raised will help support life-changing research into this cruel condition.”