Youth Team defender Chris Mepham follows uncle Roy in to Brentford FC and backs Football v MND campaign
Former member of the Brentford FC youth team, Roy Mepham, was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in October 2009 aged 61 and passed away in December 2010.
After Brentford he continued to play football up until five years before his diagnosis.
Almost four years later, Roy’s nephew, 16-year-old Chris Mepham, has signed a two-year scholarship with The Bees.
Dedicated to football from the age of six, Chris signed with the Chelsea Academy when he was ten and was with them for 4 years.
Now with Brentford his next aim is to go professional and one day represent England.
The Motor Neurone Disease Association has been running a national campaign called Football v MND fronted by former Altrincham footballer, Mark Maddox who was diagnosed with MND in his late thirties, and with a young family.
In March 2014, Brentford FC ran the campaign poster in their match programme.
MND can strike anyone at any time.
It is progressive and terminal, attacking the nervous system and stopping messages from reaching the muscles.
This means that people with MND can lose the ability to walk, move their arms, talk, and eventually breathe.
50 per cent of people will die within 14 months of being diagnosed.
There is no cure.
Chris’ dad, brother and uncle were all inspirations for him to keep practising and training hard.
When he was accepted by Brentford FC, following in his Uncle Roy’s footsteps, it was a proud moment for Chris and his family.
Chris said: “Roy was there when he was roughly 16.
"It’s probably changed a lot from when Roy was playing but we’re in roughly the same age group at the same club.
"Roy was a winger, a very quick winger and I’m a defender.”
This June sees the World Cup and MND Awareness Month coincide.
If Football v MND is to make an impact, now is the time.
Raising awareness is key for this disease as it devastates lives and very little is still known about who gets MND, why or when.
MND is an expensive disease to support.
Money is needed for training healthcare professionals, house adaptations and vital communication equipment such as eye gaze.
This demand is often too much for health and social services, and that is where the West London and Middlesex branch comes in for people living with MND in the area, and their families.
Chris added: “Before Roy got diagnosed with MND, I wasn’t really aware of what it was.
"But, I was on the Central Line the other day and saw a big MND poster, my dad pointed it out straight away.
"But, you speak to people and they don’t really know what it is which makes you think that maybe there isn’t enough out there for raising awareness for it.
"Football is the biggest sport in the country, whenever there is football around people always turn to it straight away.
"If MND and football were linked there would be a lot of people that might start understanding what it is and see it differently.”