A MOTHER who suffered the loss of her son and husband refuses to be “beaten” by a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis.

Julie Ackroyd from Worthing was diagnosed with MS, a condition which affects the body’s central nervous system, last year.

The 58-year-old said: “The diagnosis of MS has been a very challenging one.This time last year I needed two sticks to walk and I didn’t have the confidence to go out alone as I was very unsteady on my feet.

“But with the same determination I learned from my son, Luke, I was not going to be beaten by it and I’m now walking five miles once a week.”

Julie’s son, Luke Rumsey, was born at 31 weeks and suffered a brain haemorrhage, which led to cerebral palsy and a rare genetic condition that affected the middle section of his brain.

Julie said: He always required the same level of care as a new-born baby, but despite his many disabilities, Luke loved life and was determined to do what he could. He was well known for his smile. I always knew Luke wouldn’t make old age, but I didn’t expect it to be so soon after his 19th birthday.”

Luke’s health deteriorated dramatically in 2008 and he spent the last three weeks of his life at St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing.

Julie said admitting Luke to the hospice was “the best decision I ever made” as she was exhausted caring for him.

She said: “When Luke was coming to the very end of his short and precious life, they took over his care and I became Luke’s ‘mum’ again. This was the greatest gift anyone could have given me - it’s not the right way round to lose your child.”

Luke died in Julie’s arms on August 20, 2008.

St Barnabas House also provided support to Julie when her husband Ray died suddenly in 2018.

Julie is honouring Luke and Ray while raising money for St Barnabas by taking part in the charity’s Sunrise to Remember on September 12. The event will see hundreds of people set off on a seven-mile walk at sunrise.

Julie said: “If I can do it, so can you. This charity, which is so close to my heart, needs every penny we can possibly raise for them.”

Donate to Julie's crowdfunding campaign here.

For more information or to register for Sunrise to Remember, go to stbh.org.uk.