Gordon’s rumgumption - How a legacy gift helped little Jack and his family | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - September 2015

Gordon’s rumgumption - How a legacy gift helped little Jack and his family

Gifts in wills are vital to Action and can have a massive impact on generations to come. One such legacy helped unlock the causes of a condition that can cause blindness.

Back in 2004 we received a letter from Gordon Walkinshaw of Lochwinnoch in Paisley. Gordon suffered from a genetic condition and told us that his dream was to make a real difference in the field of genetic research.

A visit was arranged with Action’s Chief Executive and, over a glass of Gordon’s excellent home-made bramble wine, they chatted about his wishes. He wanted to leave Action a gift in his will to fund genetic Research Training Fellowships. Gordon was meticulous about deciding on the exact wording that was to be used, and his gift would be his entire Estate.

Gordon passed away in 2008, aged 69, and we were notified that his kind gift amounted to an amazing £685,000. To our surprise we found that his will was written in Auld Scots which we had to get translated.

It included his direction: “I instruct that my wealth be used to further research into the evils of genetic disease…”

How Gordon Walkinshaw’s gift helped little Jack and his family

Jack was born with a genetic condition called primary aphakia, which was the result of both mum Sally and husband Al carrying very rare changes in the same gene. Sally says Jack’s condition came as a shock.

“I had a totally healthy pregnancy. Jack was our second child and we had no family history of any eye problems. The doctor did a routine eye check just after he was born and thought something was wrong.”

A high-tech ultrasound scan confirmed the seriousness of his condition and that he would need several operations.

The family found out what caused Jack’s condition thanks to Dr Lily Islam, an Action Research Training Fellow funded by Gordon’s gift. Dr Islam found a number of genetic changes that cause childhood blindness and has developed a new test to help explain the causes of specific eyesight problems.

Gordon’s gift has given Sally and Al some much-needed answers about their young son’s condition.

Sally says: “The research results helped us to stop blaming ourselves. I thought I must have done something wrong during my pregnancy. It is amazing that such a miniscule thing as one gene has such a massive impact on his life.”

Thank you Gordon for your rumgumption! (In case you didn’t know, ‘rumgumption’ is a Scottish word meaning good sense).

We are extremely grateful for all gifts in wills, whatever their size, and every single gift helps us fund more vital medical research. For more information on legacies please contact Jane Tarrant, Legacy Officer, on 01403 327414 or email jtarrant@action.org.uk

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