The widower of Motor Neurone Disease (MND) campaigner Gordon Aikman has pledged to continue his fundraising efforts to find a cure for the condition.
Scottish Mr Aikman died at the age of 31 eight weeks ago, after several years living with MND.
His husband, Joe Pike, revealed that the Gordon’s Fightback campaign had raised an extraordinary £600,000 since it was started.
The milestone was achieved on what would have been his 32nd birthday.
Loved ones have now pledged to increase that to a million pounds, as they fight to find a cure for other sufferers and their families.
He wrote in the Sunday Times Scotland: “Today, for the first time I won’t be able to kiss my husband, hold him and say: ‘Happy birthday, I love you’,” Joe said.
“There are no cards this year, no gifts, no fancy meals – just memories.
“I miss Gordon’s voice, his eyes and his smile. I miss the in-jokes and affection and finishing each other’s sentences.
“But Gordon never wanted pity, and I don’t either. I want to turn a negative into a positive.”
He’s now urging people to donate to keep the search for a cure going.
“Gordon’s real passion was finding a cure. Doctors do not know what causes Motor Neurone Disease, let alone how to cure it.
“But scientists in labs doing research provided him with hope.
“A cure for MND – that would be a real gift to remember Gordon by.”
Mr Aikman had been diagnosed with the terminal illness in 2014, when he vowed to do everything he could to help find a cure.
His husband confirmed the death on Twitter in February, writing: “My beautiful husband Gordon Aikman has died. We are all heartbroken. He was my best friend, my soulmate and the love of my life.”
— Joe Pike (@joepike) February 3, 2017
The couple had married in 2015, a year after the terminal diagnosis.
His extraordinary efforts convinced the Scottish government to change the way they approached MND care.
Politicians from across the spectrum paid moving tributes following his death.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wrote: “We are all heartbroken for you, Joe. Love and thoughts are with you and all of Gordon’s family.”
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also paid tribute, saying: “I am immensely saddened to hear that Gordon Aikman has died.
“He was a truly vital and remarkable man and I am proud to have known him.”
Mr Aikman had written on his JustGiving page of the situation he faced: “I’m dying. And fast.
“That – in short – was what my doctor told me when I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. It is not the news you expect when 29-years-old.
“There is no cure. Soon it will kill me. That’s why I am doing all I can while I can to raise money for MNS Scotland: a great charity that funds research into the disease.
“It’ll be too late for me, but we can and we must find a cure for the next generation.
“With your help I can turn a negative into a positive.”
Donations can be made to Gordon’s Fightback here, or by texting MNDS85 £10 to 70070.