Wainhouse Tower in Halifax is lighting up green to mark World Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week, from Sunday 13 to Saturday 19 September 2020.
‘Light Up for Mito’ is a global campaign illuminating buildings green across the world to raise awareness of Mitochondrial Disease (often shortened to Mito). It is the most common genetic illness but is relatively unknown.
For the second year running, Calderdale Council is showing its support for the campaign by lighting up the iconic landmark with green bulbs from this Sunday.
Every day a child is born in the UK at risk of developing a serious mitochondrial disease, but Mito can start at any age and affects around one in 4,300 adults. Sadly, there is currently no treatment or cure. It means the body’s cells can’t produce enough energy, which damages the organs. The disease is progressive and can be life-limiting to various degrees.
A current storyline in Coronation Street is helping to raise awareness of Mito. The young character Oliver has been diagnosed with an incurable form of the disease, and his on-screen parents, Steve McDonald and Leanne Battersby are struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis.
Tragically, for Alison Bennett from Halifax, the storyline is similar to her own experience. Alison lost her son Jack when he was just 14 months old. Alison is helping to boost awareness of Mito, along with former Calderdale Councillor Christine Beal, who tragically lost her daughter Emma to the disease in September 2017, aged 28.
Emma Beal worked for the Council’s Corporate Asset and Facilities Management Service in 2015. Emma fell ill in 2010 whilst at university, and the condition affected her heart most severely.
During her long and brave fight with the disease, Emma helped to set up the charity, ‘My Mito Mission’ along with her mum, family and friends. Launched in October 2017 and based in Brighouse, the charity aims to increase awareness, funds for research, support and hopes of a cure for Mito by facilitating localised missions run by affected families across the country. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity hopes to reach a milestone total of £100,000 raised since it was formed, by the end of this year.
Christine Beal, My Mito Mission’s Chair, said:
“The people of Calderdale and beyond have been wonderful in their support and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them. As well as Emma’s Mito Mission, based locally, we now have seven missions around the UK, and hope to have many more empowering affected families to raise awareness and hopes of treatments and a cure.
“We are passionate about informing everyone that research into how our mitochondria work is an exciting field of medicine, which will not only help those with mitochondrial disease, but the millions impacted by other conditions which also involve mitochondrial damage – such as dementia, diabetes, epilepsy, stroke, some cancers and many more. That’s why one of our key messages is that ‘Mito Matters to Millions’.”
Jack’s mum, Alison Bennett, said:
“Dealing with a diagnosis of a life-limiting illness is incredibly hard and the grief unimaginable. National charity The Lily Foundation was there to support us and I’m delighted that they are working closely with Coronation Street to highlight the realities faced by mitochondrial families. Hopefully through increased awareness and research a cure can be found.”
Cllr Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s Leader, said:
“Our thoughts are with Christine, Alison and all the people affected by this cruel disease. The lives of Emma, Jack and many others have been tragically cut short, and we must do all we can to raise awareness of Mito to honour their brave battles and to help other patients and their loved ones.
“We are proud to once again be lighting up Wainhouse Tower in green to support World Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. This iconic landmark can be seen for miles around in Calderdale and highlights the importance of the local, national and global work on Mito.”
The Council is raising awareness of Mito through social media and amongst its staff.
The Piece Hall in Halifax and St. Thomas’s Church in Greetland are joining Wainhouse Tower in lighting up green to mark World Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week.
For more information, visit www.mymitomission.uk(external link), www.mymitomission.uk/emmabeal(external link) or www.thelilyfoundation.org.uk(external link), email email@example.com or call 01484 719250.
Follow the hashtags #lightupformito and #KissGoodbyeToMito on Twitter.
Wainhouse Tower is an ornate Victorian chimney standing 77 metres (253 feet) high in Halifax, built with locally quarried stone and completed in 1875. It’s known as a folly as it was never used for its original purpose of controlling smoke from the adjacent dyeworks at the time. Find out more about the well-loved monument at www.visitcalderdale.com/attra-wainhouse-tower(external link)