Charity website crashes from surge of interest after death of Stephen Hawking

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The Motor Neurone Disease Association’s website stopped working yesterday following a surge of traffic after the announcement of the death of its patron Professor Stephen Hawking.

Hawking had lived with a form of motor neurone disease for over 50 years, despite being told he would likely only live a few years after his diagnosis at the age of 22. He had been a patron of the MND Association since 2008. He died in his home in Cambridge in the early hourse of Wednesday at the age of 76.

Chris James, director of external affairs at the MND Association said: “Following the sad news of the death of Professor Stephen Hawking there has been a huge increase in the number of people accessing our website which caused it to be unavailable for a period of time. Although we have seen a small increase in donations the majority of visitors to our website are interested in finding out more about the disease.

“Professor Hawking did a huge amount to raise awareness of motor neurone disease (MND), through so many years in the public eye, and this legacy continues today.”

In response to the website being unavailable, the charity set up a JustGiving page to allow people to continue to donate to the charity in memory of Hawking.

MND is a fatal, rapidly progressing disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It attacks the nerves that control movement so muscles no longer work.

‘Honoured to have him as a patron’

Sally Light, chief executive of the MND Association, said: “All of us at the MND Association have been extremely saddened by the news of Professor Hawking’s passing.

“Through so many years in the public eye he did a huge amount to raise awareness of motor neurone disease (MND), yet he never allowed himself to be defined by his illness. His approach to life with MND is an example to all of us.

“The story of his life and the impact of MND on his family reached a global audience in 2015. We were involved from the very start with the production of the film The Theory of Everything and it was an incredibly powerful tool for further raising awareness of motor neurone disease.

“We were honoured that Professor Hawking was a patron of the Association and inspired by his tenacity to keep pushing boundaries.”

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