Introducing Fred – the Shaky Chef … and ATAXIA

11th June 2018 — 25 Comments

An example of the card I carry at all times

Apart from my other afflictions not many people know that I also suffer from Ataxia, or even know what it is. I carry the card of explanation with me at all times. And that’s why I gave up metal detecting. I often appear drunk to other people. You can check out the condition in more detail by clicking on the name.

But it isn’t myself that I want to talk about. My aim is to tell you more about ataxia through the experience of others. Like Fred Finch, the Shaky Chef! His story is not only insightful, but also informative and learning about the condition may contain useful information for some detectorists.

Courtesy ATAXIA magazine

My recent edition off the Ataxia magazine arrived and I was pleased to read not only about Fred, but there was also an inspiring article about a friend of mine who had been dealing with depression. Coffee time!

Fred tells us that since his initial diagnosis he went through many stages whilst coming to terms with his condition, and mentions all the high and low points dealing with depression and hopelessness.

The turning point came when he broke an ankle and that gave him time to think what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He decided that he wanted to raise awareness of what he calls his ‘wonderful condition’, and started a website, a blog, took out a Twitter account and posted on Instagram.

Cooking has always been a passion of his, made him happy over the years and he has always wanted to be a chef. Recently he wrote his first cookbook. 

Fred says,”When I cook, I feel as if I have total control over what I’m doing, whereas I don’t always feel like that when living with this condition.”

If you would like to buy the book you can search for it on Amazon, where it’s available to buy or just download. Just search on The Shaky Cookbook.

It has always been my dream to be a chef but due to my disability I have been presented with a few obstacles that stand between me and achieving this dream. In this book I will share some of the tricks i use in the kitchen to help me cook, as well as some of my favourite meals and hopefully I can inspire people, whether they share my disability or just love good food, to go and cook up a storm.

Fred recently starred on BBC Wiltshire local news (see video below), introducing his book and helping to get the word ATAXIA out to a wider public. You can visit Fred’s YouTube channel HERE. Fred can also be contacted via email


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25 responses to Introducing Fred – the Shaky Chef … and ATAXIA

  1. What a great post and a great guy! I’ve learnt so much from this. Shows that nothing can stand in your way if you have that kind of passion. A brilliant example of ‘if life throws you lemons, learn to make lemonade.’ That soup sounds really good too.

  2. Thank you Karen. I’m so pleased that you are keeping an eye on the blog. Just love that story about lemons … so true!

  3. What an inspiring post John!!!! I have known two friends who have Ataxia. The way that they have shown to me how they deal with this disease shows me the true ‘nobility of spirit’ in people. I have issues , you have issues… heck w e all have issues… but these friends have shown to me just how positive individuals can be when they have problems. They are almost always positive in outlook and happy .

    It does go to show just how strong some folks can be in adversity.

    Thank you again for this post


  4. Informative
    As ever John. I knew nothing about Ataxia until I read this.

  5. Brave post John, many thanks for enlightening me, and hopefully, many others.

  6. Ah, now you should try being a photographer……

  7. Great post John ,i had never heard of Ataxia,untill now …and no i,m not gonna make a joke of it lol

  8. John from Ontario (AKA Geobound) 12th June 2018 at 4:31 AM

    John I recently learned that a close friend of the family was thought to have Attaxia, but further testing sadly revealed ALS.

    It’s unfathomable to think that Attaxia would be a preferred outcome given the nature of it, but sadly it’s not to be.

    Hopefully a cure for these diseases aren’t long off, but at least there appears to be a support group……for what that may be worth?

    Wishing you and the Shaky Chef all the best.

  9. The ‘support’ group serves a useful function and I am pleased to be a part of it. I realise just how lucky I am when I see youngsters with slurred speech in wheelchairs etcetera. Ataxia is progressive and there is no cure.

  10. Sound bloke! I get to read his book free thanks to a certain subscription with a certain online retailer! He concludes a very personal and informative introduction by telling you, matter-of-factly, how to avoid getting hurt whilst cooking. Stops you right there and makes you think about the challenges… Good, honest recipes too… Well done F2! …Now, at risk of p*ss-taking, which I’m not, the mention of encountering a card-carrying Ataxian might freeze the marrow of the uninformed… ‘Ataxian’ sounds like one of the various nemeses of Flash Gordon, flying around in a swaying rocket buzzing at 60Hz firing streams of old-fashioned sparks out the back… Apols, but I think in pictures and you have a certain way with words… Cheers John!

  11. Thank you, John, for blogging this, and particularly Fred, for your courage in bringing it into
    the open, so that others can learn from your experiences.
    Is there an age range in which his is most commonly diagnosed, also, is there a link to gender,
    as there is with muscular dystrophy, where the female is more often the “carrier” and the male
    is the victim.
    What about life span ?, I know that you will not object to being asked, you have shown that by
    writing your book, and taking the course you decided upon for your life.
    Once again, my sincere thanks for telling us about Ataxia.

  12. Hi John:
    Very sad to read…but you’re a tough old bird. Is there per chance a ‘Shaky Tekkie’ tome in the wings?
    God Bless ya!

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