Hollyoaks claims to be the first soap to feature a character with motor neurone disease, when school headteacher Patrick Blake is diagnosed with the disease.

Patrick, played by Jeremy Sheffield, has been at the centre of a long-running domestic abuse storyline, but this development will change his life in an entirely different way.

Hollyoaks fans are already aware that Patrick is hiding something following a recent fall at the hospital. However, next Monday on Channel 4, Patrick will reveal his illness to his secretary, Theresa McQueen (Jorgie Porter).

Jeremy said: “I’m honoured to have been involved in some of the show’s biggest storylines over the last couple of years. I hope Patrick’s upcoming journey will captivate people’s hearts and minds. Patrick recognises his symptoms of MND, but he is in denial, having seen his father deteriorate and die of the same illness he is unable and unwilling to fully accept the truth.

“He endeavours to keep his diagnosis secret, as admitting the truth could jeopardise his chance of getting full custody of his beloved baby daughter, Minnie.”

Patrick will be determined to hide his diagnosis from estranged wife, Maxine Minniver (Nikki Sanderson) in an effort to win full custody of Minnie. But as Patrick struggles to live with the effects of motor neurone disease, it will become more difficult to keep it secret.

Sally Light, Chief Executive from the MND Association, said: “It’s been a great year for raising awareness of motor neurone disease. Following on from the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer and the film release of The Theory of Everything, I’m sure that Hollyoaks will show the reality of living with MND on the small screen too.

“It’s vital that we educate a young audience. Some of them will have done the Ice Bucket Challenge and now through the drama unfolding week by week will realise the devastating impact of MND and just why that was so important.”

Sally added: “I know of a family that sadly has experience of losing someone to MND and who has already recognised the subtle symptoms in Patrick as MND, which shows just how realistic Jeremy’s portrayal is.”