Former military nurse suffering from ME raises more than £7,000 for research | St Albans and Harpenden Review | 8 April 2015

April 13, 2015

From the St Albans and Harpenden Review, 13 April 2015.

A former military nurse suffering from ME is having her head shaved to raise £10,000 for research into the illness.

Barbara Shuttleworth decided to go under the razor because her condition means she cannot do anything physically tiring to raise money.

The 66-year-old, of Maynards Way, Bricket Wood, was diagnosed 28 years ago with the incurable illness which can cause chronic fatigue, muscle pain and cognitive impairment.

Although her family have always lived in Hertfordshire, the shave will take place by the pitch at Riverside Stadium because her husband and daughter are lifelong supporters of Middlesbrough Football Club.

It will take place on May 11, the first day of ME Awareness Week.

The club has promised to video the event and share it on their social media platforms to raise awareness for Barbara’s cause.

She said: “I will probably look horrendous but it is not about me, it is about the research.”

Speaking about the impact the disease has had on her life, Barbara said: “I can’t take part in holidays or family reunions when I am ill. My husband and I look after each other because he has rheumatoid arthritis.”

She first showed symptoms of ME in 1987 when a 14-day holiday with her husband Ken left her collapsed in bed with exhaustion.

She said: “It was like being out of my body. I could almost see myself. I didn’t have any control over my body because all the energy had left it.”

The following year, her daughter Louise’s first year of school, she fell ill again.

“I could only walk by holding on to the wall. I went to the doctor and collapsed onto his bed and couldn’t even sit up. He told me that if the symptoms continued for more than six months I probably had ME,” Barbara said.

“It was great to get a diagnosis. It is awful to be so ill and not know what was wrong with me.

“At times I was in bed sleeping for 22 hours a day. I didn’t recognise my husband, couldn’t speak English and I was hallucinating.

“ME is devastating. I was lucky because many people with ME do not get a diagnosis for years or not at all,” she added.

Before the illness took effect, she was a Captain in the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps in Hong Kong in the 70s.

There is currently no cure for ME, which affects an estimated 250,000 people in the UK, and little is known about its cause.

Barbara has currently raised £7,208.68 towards her goal. You can donate by visiting her JustGiving page at or texting KBLS83 followed by the amount you would like to donate to 70070.

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