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Matt revs up for tour of Europe as tribute to dad

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

  • ADVENTURER: Matt Handy with the Volkswagon Golf he will drive through ten countries in a week, and above right, the route he will take.

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A ST AUSTELL man will drive through ten countries in a week in memory of his father.

Matt Handy, from Alexandra Road, lost his father Elon Handy in 2007 at the age of 59 after a three-year battle with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a degenerative neurological disorder which causes problems with movement, balance and other body functions.

"He was locked in a useless body; his mind was fine," said the 27-year-old. "He couldn't eat or swallow. It's awful and it happened quite quickly."

Mr Handy, plant centre manager at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, will take on the challenge in his 29-year-old Volkswagen Golf.

He will cruise through England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg from October 8–14.

"I think dad would be quite proud and I think it's a challenge he would have quite liked to do himself," he said.

"He liked travelling. When I was little, for a few years my parents had a motorhome and we went around Europe."

Mr Handy aims to raise money for the MSA Trust for research into cures and what causes the disorder, as it is currently unknown, and also to generate awareness.

"I knew absolutely nothing about MSA before my dad was diagnosed and we found the GPs didn't know much about it either. We had to see specialists in London all the time," he said.

"Most people haven't heard of it."

Mr Handy's father was a builder, originally from Warwickshire, and he first noticed symptoms when he was working on roofs and lost his balance.

About 3,000 families in the UK are affected by MSA at any one time and Mr Handy aims to make the challenge an annual event, encouraging others affected by MSA to join him next year.

For more information, to contact Matt, or to donate to his cause, visit www.tencountrychallenge.webs.com.

Mr Handy will update his blog on the website throughout his journey.

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