Film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Taron Egerton were announced as official supporters of the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association last week.

Benedict and Eddie have joined the Association as ‘Patrons’, with Taron taking on the role of ‘Ambassador’.

Both titles are senior honorary roles, offered to high profile volunteers, for three and two years respectively. For Benedict and Eddie, the role of ‘Patron’ has been bestowed in recognition of their work to create awareness of MND, and of the Association, on a global scale. For Taron, the role of ‘Ambassador’ is in recognition of his family link to MND and his willingness to use his ever-increasing profile to create opportunities that benefit the MND Association.

Each celebrity has a close connection to motor neurone disease:

Benedict Cumberbatch, 39, has been an Ambassador for the Association since 2008, following the extensive research he did into MND to portray Professor Stephen Hawking in the BAFTA-nominated BBC drama Hawking. More recently, in May 2015, Benedict, with his wife Sophie, attended a VIP Dinner at Buckingham Palace alongside Professor Hawking, which was hosted by our Royal Patron, HRH The Princess Royal. In the summer of 2014 Benedict’s Ice Bucket Challenge video played a huge role in raising £7million, securing over 5.6 million views to date on our YouTube page alone and generating global media coverage.

Benedict said: “As part of my research into Stephen Hawking I worked with the Motor Neurone Disease Association who introduced me to two people who had MND at very different stages. They very generously allowed me to film them and were remarkably brave in their frankness and honesty about how it started and what they’d felt emotionally and physically. 11 years on from the release of Hawking, I am still very proud to be regularly involved with the MND Association. I’m delighted to be made a Patron”.

Eddie Redmayne, 33, undertook similar research as part of his Oscar-winning role as Professor Stephen Hawking in the BAFTA award-winning ‘Outstanding British Film’, TheTheory Of Everything. In April 2015, Eddie recently visited an MND clinic in London to show his Oscar to one of the people who helped him understand the difficulties of living with MND, Glenn Phillips. Over the summers of 2014 and 2015 Eddie made Ice Bucket Challenge videos in support of the Association.

Eddie said: “I knew that understanding the disease was going to be the essential element of The Theory Of Everything. We were invited to visit MND clinics, and I went every couple of weeks for a few months so I could find out what life was really like for people living with the disease. These people were incredibly receptive, and really kind. All the understanding they gave me went into the film, and there’s no question that we couldn’t have done it without the help we had from everyone. Being a MND Association Patron tops off the life-changing experiences I had making this film, and learning about the devastation of motor neurone disease along the way”.

Taron Egerton, 25, lost his grandmother to motor neurone disease in 2003. In February 2015 he held a fundraising screening of his hit film Kingsman: The Secret Service in his hometown of Aberystwyth to support and benefit the South West Wales Branch of the Association.

Taron said “I’ve been lucky enough to have had some amazing success with my first filmKingsman: The Secret Service and if some of that success means I can help raise awareness of motor neurone disease then I will do all I can to help. My gran was a formidable woman and to have her taken from us so quickly by MND was an awful shock for my family. I’ve already worked with my local MND Association branch to put on a big fundraising event back in my home town of Aberystwyth so I’m really excited to become an Ambassador for the MND Association. I look forward to working more with the charity in the future”.

Chief Executive Sally Light said: “General awareness of motor neurone disease has never been higher, in part thanks to the talent, hard work and passion shown by Benedict Cumberbatch, Eddie Redmayne and Taron Egerton. Their support has brought global attention to what is a relatively rare – but utterly devastating – disease. Such visibility has had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the profile of motor neurone disease and the needs of those affected by it. We are thrilled to be working with our new Patrons and Ambassador, and incredibly grateful for their support”.

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