A LAKE District husband and wife are to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall following a life-changing diagnosis.

Aged just 45, Alan Towart, of Lakeside, learned in April that he has motor neurone disease (MND). The mechanical team leader at BAE Systems, Barrow-in-Furness, and his wife Dawn, a dental hygienist, relocated to the Lakes three years ago with their daughter Sophia, aged seven.

Mrs Towart, who works in Milnthorpe, told the Gazette they had been overwhelmed by an outpouring of kindness and generosity from well-wishers, who have donated close to £3,000 for their walk in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association and St Mary's Hospice, Ulverston - far surpassing their original £1,000 target.

The pair are to lace up their walking boots on August 30 for the five-day trek, which will see them cover 86 miles coast to coast, from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend, Alan's North East birthplace. They hope their daughter will join them for a few miles en route.

"We are both still quite young and it's been a massive shock," said Mrs Towart of the diagnosis, "but Alan is still quite active and healthy. We are trying to make the most of everything and raise as much awareness and funds for the charity as we can.

"The more people we speak to, the more people have a connection with MND. It doesn't seem to be quite as rare as we first thought."

Mr Towart's mobility is not yet affected, but he has difficulty with his grip and fine motor skills, which impacts on writing, holding cutlery and pressing buttons.

"There's no set pattern; everybody seems to have a different journey," explained Mrs Towart. "We are lucky that Alan was diagnosed so quickly. We are trying to be as positive as we can and just throwing ourselves into life, enjoying today for the moment."

Sophia, who attends Penny Bridge CE Academy, knows "a little bit" about her father's condition, said Mrs Towart, adding: "She is very much helping us to take each day as it comes and be positive for the days that we've got."

The Towart family say are grateful for the support they have received, including from Sophia's 'amazing' primary school; their local community; outdoor shop Blacks, at Ambleside; the Kendal branch of the MND Association; St Mary's Hospice; and the MND team based at Preston. "That's going to keep us going," said Mrs Towart. "We've just got to put the miles in and do the walk."

If you would like to donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alan-towart1 to raise funds for the MND Association, and www.justgiving.com/fundraising/dawn-towart2 for St Mary's Hospice.