Obituary: Motor Neurone Disease fundraiser Elaine Barden

A passionate fundraiser for the Motor Neurone Disease Association has died from the same condition.

Elaine Barden, from Berry Brow in Huddersfield, faced the onset of the disease with immense courage, remaining cheerful and dignified.

“She tried to hold onto the positives right through to the end,” said husband Stuart. “She had a quiet personality but she was very strong.”

Elaine, 72, had previously nursed her first husband, Ian Gibson, through MND after he was diagnosed in 1984 at the age of 39. Following his death in 1990 she threw herself into volunteer work and raising awareness of the condition.

Stuart said the average person has a 1 in 50,000 chance of being diagnosed with MND. He added that that statistic was dwarfed by the odds of Elaine being diagnosed with MND after having nursed Ian for six years.

Elaine met Stuart, 54, in 1999 when he was a mental health nurse at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. Romance blossomed via a shared interest in charity fundraising – she for the MND Association and he for the Huddersfield Epilepsy Group. They married in 2003.

Stuart described his wife as “calm personified” and said her approach to fundraising was indicative of her warm and generous personality.

“She was a very loving, wonderful person who cared about other people and would always put them above herself.

“Fundraising was a passion for her, she loved helping people.

“She was also a volunteer visitor for people with MND. She would see them in their homes.”

Long-time fundraiser Elaine Barden, of Berry Brow, who has died at the age of 72.

A big knitter and cross-stitcher, in 2010 Elaine was featured in the Examiner after she and a friend, Nancy Baxter, knitted 300ft of scarves, raising £900 for the MND Association.

Stuart said his wife was stoical about the approach of the disease. Having nursed her first husband she knew what to expect.

“She was no fool and she was immense in her courage. She nursed Ian at home and I promised her that I would nurse her at home. I kept that promise.”

Born in Huddersfield, raised in Crosland Moor and Bradford, and later resident in Longwood, Elaine latterly lived at Berry Brow. She spent 37 years in administration at ICI, later Zeneca and then Syngenta, retiring in 1998.

She was the secretary of the Huddersfield and Halifax MND branch before it disbanded to become the West Yorkshire branch and just before Christmas received the award for 25 years’ service.

Jackie Johnson from West Yorkshire MND paid this tribute: “Elaine is going to be missed by all her MND volunteering friends in West Yorkshire.”

Elaine’s funeral will be held at Huddersfield Crematorium at 10.30am on January 26.

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