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Gulf War veteran living with MS fundraises for life-changing treatment centre

PUBLISHED: 16:31 24 June 2020

Rob Burton served in the Gulf War in 1991 driving trucks, tanks and working as a radio operator. Picture: ROB BURTON

Rob Burton served in the Gulf War in 1991 driving trucks, tanks and working as a radio operator. Picture: ROB BURTON

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A military veteran living near Ipswich with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is fundraising for his birthday to support a treatment centre which drastically improves his quality of life.

Rob and his wife Haley live in Sproughton, Ipswich, but miss Cyprus where they lived for 10 years. Picture: ROB BURTONRob and his wife Haley live in Sproughton, Ipswich, but miss Cyprus where they lived for 10 years. Picture: ROB BURTON

Rob Burton lives in Sproughton with his wife Haley, after living in Cyprus for more than a decade while serving in the army.

While Rob was diagnosed in 1995 with relapsing remitting MS, it has now advanced to secondary progressive MS - which is much more aggressive.

“Back in those days, there wasn’t so much known about it, so when I was first diagnosed I was pretty much sent home with just a leaflet,” he explained.

“When my symptoms first started, I had optic neuritis so I had pain and blurring in my left eye.

Rob served in the army between 1988 and 1991. Picture: ROB BURTONRob served in the army between 1988 and 1991. Picture: ROB BURTON

“It has now changed to secondary progressive, which means all of my symptoms will just get worse now and I have trouble with my legs – it’s all downhill from here.”

The 49-year-old regularly attended and volunteered at the Suffolk Oxygen Therapy Centre before lockdown, which involved sitting in a hyperbolic chamber and breathing 100% pure oxygen for an hour at a time – greatly improving his balance and symptoms.

Now categorised as a vulnerable person, he is shielding at home with his wife and can’t wait to get back to the centre which, like all charities, has been hit hard by Covid-19.

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He added: “Volunteering at the oxygen centre, I get to meet other people and the feeling of helping others is really amazing.

“It’s the chance of meeting other people like me who are just trying to carry on.”

Unfortunately for Rob, his diagnosis came just four years after he left the army - so he doesn’t qualify for a war pension, despite his debilitating condition.

He served in the army between 1988 and 1991 and took part in the Gulf War, driving trucks and tankers as well as working as a radio operator.

Rob took up scuba diving when he was living in Cyprus but had to give it up due to his MS. Picture: ROB BURTONRob took up scuba diving when he was living in Cyprus but had to give it up due to his MS. Picture: ROB BURTON

He then volunteered to stay on in Kuwait after the war to drive tankers of fresh water over from Saudi Arabia.

Recalling his time in the forces, Rob said: “There was a little bit of danger but it is what I was trained to do.”

The veteran only moved back to Ipswich in recent years, as his advancing MS made the heat of Cyrpus unbearable.

He is now doing pilates every day for 50 days to raise money for the centre in honour of his 50th birthday in July.

MORE: Britain’s Strongest Disabled Woman – ‘MS won’t stop me’


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