Karen was diagnosed with Progressive MS in 2003 and was a regular service user at the Merlin MS Centre, nr St. Austell. Sadly, she died in March 2014, aged 44, after living with the condition for more than 11 years
As a young woman Karen Medlyn had two ambitions in her life - she wanted to dedicate her life to nursing and to live in a cottage in the close-knit community of Charlestown – she achieved both, but aged just 33 her life was cruelly changed when she was diagnosed with the neurological condition Multiple Sclerosis.
Karen and her family have raised tens of thousands of pounds for the charity. Now, as a lasting tribute to Karen, her family has set up a special fund to enable young people who want to have a career in nursing or health to be given practical paid work experience. Karen o spent her working life as a dedicated and highly regarded staff nurse until her illness made it impossible for her to continue in her chosen career.
The Karen Medlyn Fund will finance paid work experience, one day a week, at the centre for students who are planning to go on to university to study nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy or a professional health qualification . Money from Karen’s funeral, the sale of knitted festive items and other fundraising activities has already raised around £7000.
Karen’s grandmother Edna Liddicoat, 92, and her team of helpers have over several years contributed more than £40,000 to the charity, mainly through selling festive knitted items. The family’s efforts have enabled the charity to buy various pieces of equipment used in the Physiotherapy Department, which was named The Karen Medlyn Suite in 2011.
“Karen was such a wonderful nurse – so many people would recognise her out and about and thank her for the special care she gave them,” said Edna.
“Karen fought her illness with courage and dignity, determined she would live an independent life. She was also an avid fundraiser for the Merlin Project, which was then in its infancy, helping to contribute to the fundraising campaign to build and equip Cornwall’s first MS therapy centre, “she added.
In 2009, Karen’s illness became progressively worse, but with support from her parents and her best friend Lynne, who was also one of her carers, she was able to remain in her own home – her beautiful cottage in Charlestown.
Lynne and Karen had first met 20 years previously as staff nurses in a new urology ward at RCHT Treliske, Truro. “Karen absolutely loved her chosen career and it must have been so hard for her to have had to leave so suddenly when she was given her diagnosis of MS and became affected so quickly by it,” said Lynne.