Clare Mount will always remember the evening of Christmas Day 2003 as “the night that stole my smile”…

“People say I look like a freak, a tramp, that I’m ugly…,” says Clare Mount who suffers from Bell’s palsy.

The condition affects the muscles on one side of a person’s face. The muscles become weak or paralysed. Although the exact cause is not known, it has been linked to trauma of the seventh cranial nerve. It has also been linked to various viral infections including cold sores and genital herpes (herpes simplex), chickenpox and shingles (herpes zoster).

Most people recover in a few weeks. But for 20%, the condition persists. Clare Mount and Marcus Horton are two of those who have been living with Bell’s palsy for many years.

Clare’s condition struck at Christmas in 2003, and Marcus first developed the nerve condition in 2017 while he was a sniper in the army.

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Marcus says it ‘cost him his dream job’. He had to learn to eat and speak again, and suffers from constant pain.

Steroids in the first 72 hours of the condition’s onset have been shown to help. But neither Clare nor Marcus were able to get treatment in time.

Watch the video above for more information about the condition.

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