Martin McCudden is from Wales and has Friedreich’s ataxia (FA), he’s 52 years old. Like many other people, Martin has experienced unnecessary stops from the police due to his ataxia symptoms. Here’s what he has faced over time.

I still work full time and wear a suit, although, it looks a little incongruous being all suited and booted with a bit of a dysarthria slant to my voice and the odd stagger. Around five years ago, I had a little spate of police stops and breathalysing. They were usually all a bit zealous and excited, roaring about in their cars, blocking exits etc. and of course the machine always read negative.

The fourth time this happened I was at home (after leaving Asda, having purchased a suspicious loaf of bread) and a police woman knocked at my door. I invited her in and she explained I’d been reported. So, I told her I had ataxia and she fully sympathised but said embarrassingly that she still had to breathalyse me. I explained about one of the three previous events when the Sweeney had screeched into action, wasting the resources of two cars, and had used one to block off my street and to foil my getaway. I explained to her that it was also a tad embarrassing.

She fully understood and to her credit upon coming back from her squad car she showed me that she’d hidden the machine under her jumper… bless!

After yet another negative reading she said: "I’ll have a word with our sergeant and see if we can get some intel on the car". I replied: "Good luck with that," not really expecting much, but at 7.45am the next morning, I received a call from the station saying everything should now be fine… not a single stop since.

It shouldn’t have taken four times for Martin to stop being pestered and reported on the street. By raising awareness of ataxia we can prevent situations like this. Share this story and help get the word ataxia out there.