‘They are forced to suffer until the bitter end’ - woman launches first Norfolk assisted dying campaign

Vonnie Daykin has started a Dignity in Dying campaign in Norfolk, after the deaths of her parents To

Vonnie Daykin has started a Dignity in Dying campaign in Norfolk, after the deaths of her parents Tony and Mavis Cockayne (pictured) of Parkinson's and motor neurone disease. They are pictured in 2005. Photo: Vonnie Daykin - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk woman is set to launch the first assisted dying campaign group in Norfolk after three close loved ones faced painful, and prolonged, deaths.

Vonnie Daykin, 58, became a supporter of Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for terminally ill people to have more say over how they die, years ago after seeing her mother, father and uncle suffer before they died.

She said her father and uncle died of Parkinson's disease and her mother from motor neurone disease (MND), triggering a desire in her to see terminally ill people given a greater say over their death.

Mrs Daykin, who runs a tree surgery business with her husband and is based in Itteringham, said: "Until you see someone with a terminal illness go through pain and suffering at the end of their life, you might not realise that sometimes death can be a relief.

"Under the current law, people are not given a choice - they are forced to suffer until the bitter end.

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She encouraged local people to come to the first meeting to learn about assisted dying, and why it is "so important the law is changed to allow terminally ill people a choice over where, when and how they die".

She said the desire to call for change began after her mum was diagnosed with MND.

"We had a bad 10 years as a family," she said. "My uncle and dad were diagnosed with Parkison's and then mum was diagnosed with MND.

"When we visited her at the nursing home we'd sit at the side of the bed and think 'there's got to be more to it'.

"Until you are in that position you can't really appreciate what it's like and what we all go through."

Dignity in Dying supports a law change which would allow terminally ill people, with six months or less to live, the option to control their death.

They do not support assisted suicide, which would enable other people to help someone end their life, or euthanasia, the deliberate ending of someone's live to relieve suffering.

The first meeting of the group will be held at 7pm on Thursday, June 13 at the Charing Cross Centre on St John Maddermarket in Norwich.

- What are your thoughts on assisted dying? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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