Cinemagoers’ generosity is worthy of an Oscar

Felicity Jones stars in The Theory of Everything

Felicity Jones stars in The Theory of Everything - Credit: Archant

The buzz surrounding an Oscar- winning film has helped a loving husband to raise more than £1,000 in the fight against motor neurone disease in memory of his late wife.

Alan Smith, 73, collected donations at the Radway Cinema every night for three weeks during the run of the Academy Award-winning The Theory of Everything.

He is hoping to buy iPads with the donations so sufferers can speak to loved ones.

The film is based on the true story of world renowned physicist and motor neurone disease sufferer Stephen Hawking, who was diagnosed when he was at Cambridge University.

Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar on Sunday for his moving portrayal.

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Alan, of Newton Poppleford, saw the film as an opportunity to raise funds - as the condition would be in the forefront of cinemagoers’ minds.

He said: “We need to get as many people to know about motor neurone disease as possible.

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“We have to take every chance there is. The ice bucket challenge made millions. That has all gone to research to try to find a cure for this disease. It has brought finding a cure forward by years.”

Alan’s wife of 50 years, Sandra, died in February 2014 after being diagnosed with the disease three years previously.

The 71-year-old lost her voice soon after the diagnosis and was unable to communicate.

Alan said: “She couldn’t speak, then she was bought an iPad.

“She could type in and speak through it.

“It gave her her voice back.”

The disease attacks the motor neurone nerves which allow people to grip, walk, speak, breathe and swallow. As the condition progresses, these things become difficult or impossible for sufferers to do.

Alan joined the East Devon branch of the Motor Neuron Disease Association after Sandra asked him to raise money for the charity.

He said: “I was just touched. I kept going back to the Radway each night for three weeks collecting money as people were going out of the door. People were going out and then coming back in with money.

“There are some lovely people out there, especially here in Sidmouth.”

The charity is preparing for a summer ball which will be held in June this year.

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