Two brothers will be hosting a fundraiser in memory of their late father who was brought up in Ayr.

Brothers Carl and Neil Rutherford will host their third West End Cast Charity Gala in Stevenage in memory of their late father, Iain, carrying out his wish to generate awareness around motor neurone disease (MND) as well as raising vital funds for MND Scotland.  

Following the success of their two previous charity galas, former stage manager, Carl Rutherford, 50, and his brother, Neil 54, who for many years was an actor and international casting director, have produced another spectacular charity gala concert to support people affected by motor neurone disease. 

With a live 36-piece professional orchestra, a choir of 40 and leading West End stars, it is expected to be a big event.

As a respected musical director and pianist, Iain, from Ayr, first began to show symptoms of motor neurone disease while playing piano, when he noticed a stiffness in his fingers and began struggling to play at his usual level.  

Although initially assumed to be a sign of aging, as the problem persisted, beginning to severely affect his left hand, Iain visited his GP who quickly referred him to a neurologist.  

Carl said: “Once Dad was referred to the neurologist, we had no thought that it could be MND. We just knew that dad was going for some tests and didn’t think much else of it really.” 

Then a few months into tests being carried out, while Iain was attending one of his appointments, Carl received a call from his mum, asking for them to be picked up from hospital.

It was then that Carl learned the devastating news that his dad had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND). 

Read More: Boiling water threat thug jailed after barricading himself in during Ayr stand-off

Unsure of what motor neurone disease was, Carl stopped his car to search the then unfamiliar term online and had the distressing experience of learning about the condition from his mobile phone. 

Recalling that harrowing moment, Carl said: “I had heard of motor neurone disease but had no idea what it was really.

"I can just remember frantically reading the words ‘life ending’ and ‘no cure’ and beginning to panic.

"It was extremely upsetting, and I didn’t know what to think.” 

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.

This can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow or breathe unaided and the average life expectancy is just 18 months from diagnosis. 

On his dad’s reaction to being diagnosed with MND, Carl said: “After the obvious initial devastation, Dad’s reaction was, like always, very much of a gentleman.

"He didn’t really raise his voice or get upset in public, and in fact was very calm and accepting of the situation.  

“Obviously, he had moments where he visibly struggled with what was happening, but I honestly think my mum, brother and I found it tougher to grasp.” 

Although raised in Ayr, Iain was born in Kirkintilloch, and was extremely proud of his roots, frequently taking his family back to where he was from for summer holidays.  

Scotland held a special place in Iain’s heart, and it brought him immense joy to pass on this love and appreciation to his family through those cherished summer vacations.  

Read More: College's first aid training for Ayrshire businesses wins official stamp of approval

Remembering those precious times, Carl said: “I have very fond memories of travelling up to my Nan’s guesthouse in Ayr, with our suitcases on the roof rack.

"Spending two weeks there making amazing memories, before heading over to my aunt and uncles in Edinburgh.” 

While Iain was still physically able, him and his wife Keryle took a day trip back to Ayr, to reminisce and connect, even managing to have a look around the same guesthouse once owned by their Nan.  

Sadly, as the disease progressed, Iain would require a feeding peg to be fitted and began to use an oxygen mask to help him breathe while sleeping.   

Carl said: “Although he seemed to cope with it quite well, all things considered, MND is a terrible disease and you can’t help but feel powerless, so we wanted to do something as a family to support people in the same situation.” 

Having performed in musicals together at the Gordon Craig Theatre, Stevenage with local amateur companies before, Carl and Neil eventually joined the entertainment industry, working on many West End Musicals, the family decided to host their own charity gala. 

He continued: “Being close friends with some of the most talented musicians, crew and actors currently working in the West End, we were very lucky that we could quickly put together a wonderful night of entertainment and fundraising.” 

Tragically, in 2015, just months before their first gala was set to take place, Iain passed away, age 74, 18 months after receiving his diagnosis.  

Carl said: “I know he’d be proper gutted to not of been there, we all were, but I am so proud that we are now getting ready for our third gala and I know he would be too.  

“The show features some of our closest friends working on the gala, and many of them knew my dad, so having them involved is extra special.  

Read More: Teenager rushed to hospital after assault during Troon beach 'disturbance'

“We are all just so, so grateful to everyone involved for donating their time and talent for free.

"We couldn’t do any of this without them.”  

The curtain is set to go up for Carl and Neil’s third spectacular West End Cast Charity Gala on Sunday, 4 at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage and tickets can be purchased here.  

If you are unable to attend on the night but would still like to support Carl and Neil’s fundraising efforts, you can do so by donating to their Just Giving page here.

For more ways to support people across Scotland affected by MND, please visit here