Westruther men reveal their support (among other things) for village family in new calendar

A group of men in the tiny Borders village of Westruther have bared nearly all in a bid to help a local family.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 11:33 am
Friedreich's ataxia sufferers Andrew and William Mcleod from Westruther with parents Donald and Jan.

Two brothers, Andrew and William Macleod, aged 11 and 13 respectively, have Friedreich’s ataxia – also known as spinocerebellar degeneration – a rare genetic disease that causes difficulty walking, a loss of sensation in the arms and legs, and impaired speech.

It causes damage to parts of your brain and spinal cord and can also affect your heart.

The two boys have an older brother Connor,15,who does not have the condition.

Mr June: Mark Connington.

One of the villagers, Ali Boyle, told us: “This is a really really cruel progressive childhood disorder which is robbing these two young lads of their mobility and independence day by day.

“There is no cure and no treatment apart from painkillers and as a community it is really hard to watch our friends struggling with this when there is nothing we can do to help.

“It is important to us that every member of that family knows that we are there for them.”

A few of their dad Donald’s pals have been talking for a while about how to show some support for the family, as well as raising awareness of the condition locally and further afield.

August's photo shows Lee Stokoe, Dave Silk, Kenny Brocklehurst and John Purves. Photos by Phil Wilkinson.

And the idea of a naked calendar came up.

Villager John Purves – also known as Mr April – said: “We were looking to do something a bit different to not only help the family, but also to bring to light just how cruel this terrible condition is.

“We know there have been several naked calendars made elsewhere, but they are normally just young, buff men, not chaps in their 50s.

“We knew it would show us as we are, but there was no hesitation from any of the guys ... they didn’t even think about it.

“Sales have gone really well, so far. We have sold around 200 calendars from our first print run of 250, but the printers told us we can get more put together at any time.”

Ali added: “We are a really small village , about 200 population max, including all the little hamlets round about. We don’t even have a shop, and so want to sell as many calendars as possible outwith the community to raise awareness and cash to find a cure for all the lovely kids affected by this awful disorder.”

She joked: “Also, if we sell them all that means I won’t need to buy one and have naked pics of my neighbours up in my kitchen for a year, which is just too awful to contemplate.”

The men contacted photographer Phil Wilkinson, who captured the men in their birthday suits in several hilarious poses, with imaginative ways of covering up their dignity.

Phil told us: “John contacted me with the idea, and it’s for a good cause.

“They were all really good sports, and it’s a lovely community they have there.”

If you would like to brighten up your 2020, you can buy a calendar in the village pub, The Old Thistle Inn, or order through the group’s Facebook page @Menofwestruther.

It’s £9.99, with a £3 carriage fee on top.