A man suffering from motor neurone disease could be just one of four people in the country to take part in clinical trials to combat the illness.

Jeff Buttle, of Briarfield Avenue, Idle, was diagnosed last year after visiting his doctor complaining of a trapped nerve in his back.

The terminal illness has seen the 51-year-old change from being a keep-fit fan to having to walk with sticks and unable to speak.

Speaking on his behalf, his wife Debbie, 47, said they were waiting to hear whether Mr Buttle is suitable for the trials, which will look at ways of slowing the onset of the illness.

"When we heard about the trials we thought it was something that Jeff would like to get involved with," she said.

"We are just hoping that whatever Jeff gets involved in will perhaps help to find a cure."

Mrs Buttle said the illness has had a devastating affect on the whole family.

"Jeff has learned to come to terms with it but at first the indignity of the illness, not being able to make yourself understood, I think that was the hardest part of all for him," she said.

"His talking does still bother him but he gets on with life. We have a wheelchair for longer walks and we can manage.

"But it is the indignity of not being able to make people understand what you are saying to them. He's only 51 - when you've managed for 50 years then all of a sudden you can't, that is the heart-breaking aspect of it."

Mrs Buttle described the level of support the family has received as "humbling". She is now planning a fundraising evening for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) which helps sufferers. The event will be held at Idle Cricket Club on Saturday, November 30, and will include an auction, dance and buffet.

"We are getting through it because family and friends have been absolutely wonderful, but it is still very difficult," Mrs Buttle said. "We thought we would try and raise as much money as we can."

Tickets cost £10. Call Mrs Buttle on (01274) 428478. To contact the MNDA call 08457 626262.