Mark Reynolds

Founder and Chairman of the Q Trust
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The Independent Online

When, aged 35, Mark Reynolds was forced in 1993 to retire from his impressive career in advertising for medical reasons, and was wondering what to do, he thought he might try his hand at travel writing. This was a plucky choice for someone who had muscular dystrophy, but typical of a man whose approach, though he had suffered from the genetic muscle-wasting disease all his life, was largely to ignore it.

His original idea was to write a book about the Mediterranean but he ended up planning from his Buckinghamshire barn a tour of the seven wonders of the ancient world to raise money for seven charities. In the process he found he had a talent for fund-raising. He was extraordinarily persuasive and, according to his wife, Jemima, only ever sent individual letters, each one honed to perfection. In 1999 he became a trustee of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. Inspired by his friend and fellow sufferer Quentin Crewe, who died in 1998 of MD, Reynolds had the idea of celebrating his life by raising money in his name for research and therapy for the disease, and in a way that was perhaps more personal and a lot merrier than usual fund-raising. To this end, in 2001 he set up the Q Trust and, with a series of imaginative and unstuffy events, raised nearly £500,000 in an astonishingly short space of time.

Mark Reynolds was born in London in 1957, the elder son of Peter (later Sir Peter) Reynolds, a future chairman of Walls and Rank Hovis McDougall, and went to Berkhamsted and Merton College, Oxford, where he read History and met Jemima Blackwell, who was instantly taken with his charisma, his lust for life, his smile and open manner. He was diagnosed with MD at an early age. Neither of his parents were sufferers. It appeared spontaneously in him and his brother Adam, the sculptor, who died just three weeks before him, also of cardiac failure prompted by the disease.

At first doctors believed Mark had a strain which would have meant he would not live to adulthood. As he grew older they changed their minds and told him he could have children, believing he wouldn't pass it on. But it is a disease all the more cruel for being so arbitrary. Mark's two children, Charles, 17, and Emily, 15, both have it. Adam's two young daughters do not.

There is little treatment and no cure. Mark's parents took him to see the naturopath Dr Gordon Latto, who put him on a strict, raw, vegetarian diet. It certainly increased his strength. All his life Mark had difficulty walking - the joints stiffen along with the crumbling muscles. He took to using a thumb stick and during his working life managed a ghastly commute on buses and trains alone. Only when he retired did he resort to a wheelchair. He wasn't too proud to accept help but did try to retain his independence.

With such a disability, Mark Reynolds's achievements were all the more remarkable. He was the youngest director in the history of the advertising agency Collett Dickinson and Pearce - his clients including Hamlet Cigars and Eurotunnel - but he was particularly renowned for his moral leadership and sense of fair play, his intelligence and total disregard for his physical disability. For eight years he was a governor and vice-chairman of the Byam Shaw School of Art and instrumental in its merger with Central Saint Martins in 2004.

Mark's energy and vivacity were extraordinary. Last month he spoke movingly at his brother's funeral.

Candida Crewe