A YORK charity volunteer who has helped raise almost £40,000 for charity said attending an event hosted by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall was a “once in a lifetime thing”.
Ron Middlemass, 78, chairman of the York branch of the Myasthenia Gravis (MG) Association, was invited to the reception at St James’ Palace after being named as a Diamond Champion through WRVS, a charity for older people.
It held the awards to recognise people over 60 who selflessly volunteer their time to help others.
Despite suffering from MG for six years – a debilitating, and potentially life-threatening neuromuscular disease which causes muscle fatigue and weakness – Mr Middlemass spends much of his time volunteering.
Eighty Diamond Champions, ten from each region, were welcomed to the palace to thank them for the contributions they make to their communities at the event also attended by charity ambassadors including Philip Schofield, Patricia Routledge, Kimberley Walsh, Gloria Hunniford, Denise Robertson and Roy Noble.
Mr Middlemass, a former winner of The Press Community Pride Awards, said: “I was amazed – I don’t do it to go to such places and I didnt expect to get to the palace. I was on Camilla’s side of the room and had quite a good chat to her.
“It was something I would ever dream of, a once in a lifetime thing.”
Mr Middlemass’ efforts and those of the York branch have so far paid for £32,000-worth of equipment for York Hospital to help people with myasthenia gravis and other types of neurological and respiratory illnesses.
Nominating Mr Middlemass as a Diamond Champion, Pauline Barratt, said: “Ron is an amazing man despite having myasthenia gravis for over six years, a muscle weakening illness that devastates your life. I know, as I have MG also.
“We never know from one day to the next how it will affect us; the fatigue is horrendous.
“Ron is heavily involved in fundraising to help people with the illness, by buying equipment for York Hospital neurological and respiratory departments.
“He spends most of his spare time planning various events, collecting raffle prizes, all to help others.
“He gives fantastic support and is an inspiration, he is just on the end of the phone if you need help and calls round to check how you are.”