Shropshire Star

Family of Ludlow 'legend' launch fundraiser after his death from MND complications

Tributes have been paid to a 'much loved member of the community' who has died after a short battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

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Ludlow theatre legend Steve Piper captured people's hearts by the way he continued to take part in productions despite the nature of the disease.

Steve's family said on a family JustGiving page: "It is with great sadness that we share the news that our wonderful father, husband and grandpa Steve Piper passed away on Sunday May 26 due to complications from MND.

"In his memory we'd love to raise as much as we can for the MND Association which is working tirelessly for a much needed cure; but also helping with practical innovations such as “I Will Always Be Me”, a new voice banking storybook technology which dad himself used shortly after his diagnosis.

"Dad was passionate about raising awareness and funds for MND whether through fundraising efforts or bravely enrolling himself onto a new global MND trial.

"It is our hope that the thousands of other families across the country facing the same disease can continue to receive vital support and hopefully one day in the near future, see a cure.

"Please do take the time to read about the work this brilliant charity do and continue to raise awareness in Dad’s memory."

It was signed with love from Sophie, George, Linsey, Lydia, Florence, Ruby, Finley and Belle.

Steve's friends in the theatre and arts community have also paid tribute.

A tribute read: "It is with great sadness we announce the news that Steve Piper, a local theatre legend and much-loved member of the community passed away on the May 26 after a short battle with Motor Neurone Disease (MND).

"Steve was a dedicated teacher, serving the local community for over 40 years, with particular specialism in working with children and young adults with behavioural needs, something he found very rewarding.

"It's his love and dedication to the local arts and theatre scene that he will probably be most remembered for. He performed in the Ludlow Fringe Festival every year since 1980 and was in several local theatre groups. He also ran the Waiters Race at Ludlow Food Festival for many years.

"Every year he wrote and performed in a comedy rendition of whatever Shakespeare play was being performed at Ludlow Castle that year."

Steve Piper. Submitted picture

Most recently Steve played the lead part in Scrooge at St Laurence’s Church in December - a big local fundraiser to raise funds for MND research after he was diagnosed with the disease last summer.

Steve Piper, of the Two Score Theatre Company spoke to the Shropshire Star about his diagnosis before Christmas. He was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in the summer after noticing his legs “grinding to a halt”.

But Steve, who lived in Ludlow took the lead role of Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, on Friday, December 8.

It was performed in the style of a radio play, with Steve in a wheelchair. He spoke of it possibly being his "swansong".

Steve's death follows that of former rugby league player Rob Burrow, who has given MND such a high profile. He noticed that the first thing to go was his voice. He started slurring at a rugby dinner.

“With me it has been my legs and arms so far, so I am hoping that my voice holds out until December," said Steve

Mr Piper, then 69, had a matter-of-fact attitude to his diagnosis.

“I have just got to move on,” he said. “If I had the diagnosis in my 30s and 40s I would have been a lot more cheesed off.

"It is very frustrating but I have just got to move on and make the best of it.

“I have always been a bit of an optimist and I have got to move on. If it happened in my 20s and 30s I would have found it much harder to take.

“I have had a pretty good innings but now I have to focus on what I can do. I haven’t let it get me down too much, that could lead to a downward spiral.”

Steve is getting good support from his family and friends and is looking forward to making adaptations to his home, where he now has to sleep downstairs.

Steve's funeral will be held at Ludlow's St Laurence's Church at 11am on Friday, June 21.

Contributions to the MND cause can be made on the Just Giving page.