Saffron Walden mum is banging the drum for Motor Neurone Disease Association in memory of son

Martin Yeung

Martin Yeung - Credit: Archant

“Just before he died, Martin said he did not have any regrets – he’d done most of what he wanted to do.” Maz Smith recalls the precious final moments with her son.

“That was of some comfort to me,” she told the Reporter. “I hope it was true and he didn’t just say it to make me feel better.”

Days after the heart-warming declaration, Mrs Smith, 55, was making plans for his late birthday party when the phone rang and her world fell apart.

Former Saffron Walden County High student Martin Yeung had just turned 26 when he died of pneumonia after an 11-month battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

Two years on, Mrs Smith, of Ross Close, is hoping to raise awareness of the incurable disease by raising money to support the Motor Neurone Disease Association, which funds research and provides support for people affected.

She said: “When people think of MND Stephen Hawking comes to mind. They assume the person will end up being paralysed and spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair.

“It’s what I thought when Martin was first diagnosed in June 2010. The doctor said he had a slow form of the disease and that it wouldn’t affect his lifespan.

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As it turned out, it was actually one of the most aggressive strains. Had I known that there are things I would do differently, like not work as much, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

Martin was a keen drummer and had just joined a band shortly before he was diagnosed. “He said his right leg wouldn’t work properly and then started tripping over things,” said Mrs Smith. “It took six months before doctors delivered the shock diagnosis that he had MND.”

Martin’s love of drumming draws parallels to another MND sufferer, Alistair Banks. He garnered national attention by setting out to record an album before the disease prevented him from playing.

Alistair died in January – less than 12 months after the release of his band’s self-titled record, Alistair the Optimist.

To support the MND Association, which funded an eye gaze system and stairlift for Martin, Mrs Smith is holding a raffle to be drawn on November 2. First prize is Martin’s black Pearl Export drum kit, worth £750, with a free drum lesson, champagne and chocolates runner-up gifts.

Tickets, £2 each, are available from Saffron Walden Tourist Information Centre.