Hearts fan to sit on every seat at Tynecastle in MND Scotland charity challenge

A Heart of Midlothian fan is hoping to sit in every seat at Tynecastle Stadium after being inspired by the tragic death of Marius Zaliukas.

Charlie Irvin, of West Calder, is raising money for MND Scotland, which supports those with Motor Neurone Disease.

The disease is a rapidly progressing, terminal illness which has an average life expectancy of just 18 months from the time of diagnosis.

It blocks signals from the brain reaching muscles, causing people to lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe unaided.

Lithuanian footballer Zaliukas spent six years with the Hearts between 2006 and 2013, making 150 appearances in that time.

The centre-back also had a short stint at Rangers before dying in 2020 at the age of 36, just 11 days before his 37th birthday.

Charlie, 57, explained: “Although I don’t have a direct connection to someone with MND, Marius was and is a legend.

“To see him deteriorate so quickly, from seemingly being so fit and healthy was a real eye opener for me.”

The tattoo studio owner previously held ‘Charity Ribbon Day’s where artists would tattoo ribbons on customers for a donation.

However, due to coronavirus restrictions, he was forced to think of other creative ways in which he could make a difference.

Hearts began a partnership with MND Scotland for the 2021-2022 season as a tribute to Marius Žaliūkas, inspiring Charlie.

The lifelong club supporter said: “I’ve been really happy with the direction of the club recently, especially since we became fan owned and I’m chuffed with us having MND Scotland on the kit.

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“The fans seem to be really behind everything going on as well which is just fantastic.”

A trial run of 1,180 seats out of a total 19,852 took him an hour to compete.

Hearts began a partnership with MND Scotland for the 2021-2022 season as a tribute to Marius Žaliūkas

Charlie added: “When I’ve been out playing golf or talking to people at the studio and I’ve mentioned the challenge to someone, it’s always got their attention, which I think is the point of something like this. Even if people do think I’m a bit mad!

“Even through just talking to the team at MND Scotland, I’ve learned a lot about MND that I didn’t know before and although I’m obviously looking to raise as much money as I can, I’m hoping that through being a bit of a quirky challenge, I’m also able to generate some awareness around this truly terrible disease.”

Morag McGown, MND Scotland’s Corporate Partnerships Manager, said: “The response from Hearts supporters to the partnership with MND Scotland has been fantastic and to have people like Charlie actively getting involved to make a difference in such a creative way is more than we could have hoped for.

“The money raised by this special challenge will help to directly change the lives of people in Scotland living with MND as well as fund vital research, both of which would be impossible without our amazing fundraisers.

“We would all like to say a huge thank you to Charlie for his brilliant effort.”

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To support Charlie on his journey around every seat at Tynecastle Stadium, you can click to donate here.

For more ways to support the work of MND Scotland, please visit here.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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