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Ex-Gloucester lock Ed Slater puts his voice into a 'bank' as he battles MND

By Chris Jones
Ed Slater of England looks on during the match between the Crusaders and England at the AMI Stadium on June 17, 2014 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Gloucester Rugby’s Ed Slater took time out from preparing for a 350-mile fundraising cycle ride to help the fight against motor neuron disease (MND) to record his own voice as he faces up to the ramifications of his diagnosis.

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Slater,34, has put his voice into a “bank” to enable him to still communicate when the illness makes it impossible to speak normally. Leeds rugby league great Rob Burrow, who was diagnosed with the illness in 2019, now uses electronic voice reproduction to communicate.

Slater, who had received widespread support from the rugby community after announcing he was suffering with MND, tweeted: “I may look like a call centre operator but this week has been one where I’ve taken steps to ‘bank my voice’. It is crucial for people with MND, as speech becomes difficult,(that) I have a tool to communicate that sounds like me! I hope that it’s a while before I use it.”

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On Monday Slater and former teammates, family and friends will set off on a 350-mile charity cycle ride for the 4Ed campaign. It will start from Gloucester’s Kingsholm Stadium to Leicester’s Welford Road Mattioli Woods, where the lock spent seven years – two as captain.

After an overnight stay, the group will head off to Milton Keynes, Slater’s hometown, to visit his first club – Milton Keynes RFC. The riders then set off for Twickenham Stadium, arriving on Tuesday before heading back to Gloucester on Wednesday.

Slater will be joined by Lewis Ludlow, Fraser Balmain and Billy Twelvetrees, as well as former Gloucester Rugby players Alex Brown, Charlie Sharples and Jim Hamilton.

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Former Lions and Scotland lock Doddie Weir’s own fight against MND has, like Burrow, done so much to raise awareness of the dreadful effects of the illness. The My Name’5 Doddie Foundation has said they will support Salter and his family in any way they can.

After being diagnosed Slater took to social media and wrote:” I want to say Thank You to everyone for all your messages of support and generosity. It gives me and my family a huge amount of strength in a time of sadness for us. I will meet this challenge head on. Ultimately, I can’t win but I will fight with everything. Hope is not lost.”

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