Two brothers are preparing to host their third West End Cast Charity Gala in memory of their late father, Iain.

Carl and Neil Rutherford have produced the event which will be held at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage this weekend, on Sunday, June 4.

They're hoping to honour their father's memory by carrying out his wish of generating awareness around motor neurone disease (MND), and raising crucial funds for MND Scotland.

Carl, 50, is a former stage manager, while Neil, 54, was for many years an actor and international casting director.

Now they have brought together a live 36-piece professional orchestra, a choir of 40 and leading West End stars to perform at Stevenage's Gordon Craig Theatre.

Their father, Iain, was a respected musical director and keen pianist. Originally from Ayr in Scotland, he first began to show symptoms of MND while playing piano, when he noticed a stiffness in his fingers.

Initially, he assumed it to be a natural consequence of ageing, but as the problem persisted he visited his GP who referred him to a neurologist.

A few months into tests being carried out, while Iain was attending one of his appointments, Carl received a call from his mum, asking for them to be picked up from hospital. It was then that Carl learned the devastating news that his dad had been diagnosed with MND.

Unsure of what the disease was, Carl stopped his car to search it on his phone.

Recalling that harrowing moment, Carl said: “I had heard of MND but had no idea what it was really.

"I can just remember frantically reading the words ‘life ending’ and ‘no cure’ and beginning to panic. It was extremely upsetting, and I didn’t know what to think.” 

MND is a rapidly progressing terminal illness, which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles.

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This can cause someone to lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow or breathe unaided and the average life expectancy is just 18 months from diagnosis. 

On his dad’s reaction to being diagnosed with MND, Carl said: “After the obvious initial devastation, Dad’s reaction was, like always, very much of a gentleman. He didn’t really raise his voice or get upset in public, and in fact was very calm and accepting of the situation.  

“Obviously, he had moments where he visibly struggled with what was happening, but I honestly think my mum, brother and I found it tougher to grasp.” 

Although raised in Ayr, Iain was born in Kirkintilloch, and was extremely proud of his roots, frequently taking his family back to where he was from for summer holidays. 

While Iain was still physically able, he and his wife Keryle took a day trip back to Ayr, to reminisce and connect, even managing to have a look around the same guesthouse once owned by their nan.  

Sadly, as the disease progressed, Iain required a feeding peg to be fitted and began to use an oxygen mask to help him breath while sleeping.   

Carl said: “Although he seemed to cope with it quite well, all things considered, MND is a terrible disease and you can’t help but feel powerless, so we wanted to do something as a family to support people in the same situation.” 

With their background in the entertainment industry, the family decided to host their own charity gala. 

Tragically, in 2015, just months before their first gala was set to take place, Iain passed away, aged 74, 18 months after receiving his diagnosis.  

Carl said: “I know he’d be proper gutted to not have been there, we all were, but I am so proud that we are now getting ready for our third gala and I know he would be too.  

“The show features some of our closest friends working on the gala, and many of them knew my dad, so having them involved is extra special.  

“We are all just so, so grateful to everyone involved for donating their time and talent for free. We couldn’t do any of this without them.” 

Tickets to the gala can be purchased here, and donations can also be made via JustGiving.