Derek Wood is the coordinator of the Farnham Support Group and is 72 years old. Derek first had ataxic symptoms in 1979 and was diagnosed with ataxia in 2008.

Derek has been accused of being drunk on more than one occasion and here he tells us about the instances.

“It was three or four months ago, my wife and I were in the pound shop. I tend to pack the shopping and my wife lays the shopping out on the conveyor belt. While I was packing our shopping away, I happened to drop a couple of items. The lady serving us said to me: “mmm, you ought to have more water with it.”

The clear accusation that had been made about me dropping the items shows that the woman thought I was drunk.

Luckily, I had my ID card on me that stated what ataxia is, and I took this opportunity to show it to her. I explained my condition and afterwards she was embarrassed beyond belief.

Another time, I was in Lidl and the space around the self-service tills is quite narrow. I knew I needed to hold onto something as I didn’t trust myself. A customer turned round and asked if I was OK, and again I took the opportunity to explain that I have balance issues, and what ataxia is.

The attitude I have is that every time an opportunity arises to tell someone about ataxia, I grasp it.

The ID cards can really help this as you can easily show someone what ataxia is and especially in times where someone doesn’t believe you.”

Derek is not alone in facing these accusations. Will you help crowdfund for a card machine and help raise awareness of ataxia? Donate here today.