A DOG walker who has seen several members of her family affected by a genetic disease is using the nation’s love for dogs to draw attention to the devastating condition.

Kelly Graham (35), who runs Pippa’s Pals dog walking business, held an open day at her Paw Park, at Hedley-on-the-Hill, on Sunday where she also raised awareness of Huntington’s disease.

Kelly’s dad was diagnosed with the disease four years ago, while his brother – her uncle – is also dealing with the disease, and she has

recently lost her auntie to it.

While plenty of friendly canines played in the park, Kelly used the opportunity to inform their owners about the disorder, which affects the nervous system of those affected by it and gradually causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.

“With the Paw Park, I thought I have got such a lot of people coming in I can use it to push what Huntington’s is and what it does,

because I think it’s one of those diseases where not many people know about it,” she said.

“I would class it as one of the worst things ever, and I just don’t think it’s heard about enough.

“Once you have been diagnosed, you have got about a 15-year life span and by the end you become trapped in your own body - it takes away everything.

“It takes away every body movement - your mind, your speech: it all slowly just goes.”

Pippa’s Pals, named after Kelly’s golden retriever, has been running for three years and last year Kelly purchased the land at Hedley-on-the-Hill to use as a Paw Park, which she uses to hold social play sessions, training sessions, reactive dog space, charity events and pet parties.

On Sunday 28 dogs, along with their owners, went along, and Kelly sold hand-knitted hedgehogs as part of her Hogs for Huntington’s campaign, which is raising money for the Huntington’s Disease Association to aid research into the disease.

Her next plan for the business is to turn the two-acre piece of land next to her Paw Park into a mental health therapy farm, where people who are struggling with mental health problems can go to spend time with donkeys and other animals.

“I started the dog walking business when I was struggling with mental health. I was sick of working and not having a life, and being out with the dog was the only thing that made me happy,” said Kelly.

“It’s amazing how much people love animals and how much animals cheer you up, and as well as pushing the message about Huntington’s my vision is to help people who are struggling with mental health in the future.”

Kelly is also raising money through her Just Giving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hogs4huntingtons