THE former head boy of a Blackburn school has asked the High Court for the 'right to die' has spoken of his 'intolerable suffering'.

Noel Conway, a 67-year-old former college lecturer suffering from motor neurone disease, is challenging the law on assisted suicide.

Born in Blackburn, Mr Conway attended St Wilfrid's Church of England comprehensive in Bank Top where her was head boy in 1967/68.

The once keen skier, climber and cyclist wants a doctor to be allowed to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs when his health deteriorates further.

His challenge at the High Court in London is the fifth attempt to change the law since 2009, the last major challenge turned down by the Supreme Court three years ago.

Blackburn MP Kate Hollern and Bishop of Burnley the Rt Rev Philip North have expressed their sympathy for Mr Conway, his wife Carol and their family.

Mr Conway, who was too weak to attend the hearing in the capital, said:“I was born in Blackburn but only spent half my childhood there as my parents emigrated to New Zealand when I was nine-months-old.

"I didn't return until I was six after which we spent some time in Cornwall.

"I did however return to Blackburn for my secondary education and attended St Wilfrid's CofE comprehensive where I was head boy in 1967/68 and from there went to Lancaster University in 1968.

“I have always been in control of choices about my life, my health and my body, but as I enter my final months of life with a terminal disease, these rights have been taken away from me.

"I have lived my entire life on my own terms, yet in the face of intolerable suffering and an inevitable death, I am denied a real say over how and when I will die.

“My family and I have come to accept that I will die.

"But what I cannot accept is being forced to die either at the hands of motor neurone disease or by taking drastic measures to end my own life.

"If I choose the former, I may be left completely paralysed and unable to communicate, that is if I don’t suffocate or choke to death first.

"If I choose the latter, my condition has deteriorated so far that I would need assistance, whether it be here at home or travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland, thereby opening up my loved ones to criminal prosecution. What kind of a choice is that?

“To have another choice, the option of an assisted death in this country, would provide me with great reassurance and comfort, as I am sure it would to many other terminally ill people, whether they chose it for themselves or not.

"It would allow me to live out the rest of my life and die on my own terms. In my eyes, the law simply must change.

“Due to my worsening health, I have been unable to travel down to London to attend my hearing at the High Court this week, but on Wednesday I was able to view part of it via video link from Telford County Court."

Bishop Philip said: "I cannot begin to imagine the anguish and the struggle being endured by Noel at this this very difficult time.

"Although it is 50 years ago this year, it is clear Noel is still proud of his time as head boy at St Wilfrid's.

"I will be praying for Noel that his life will end in the way God intends it."

Mrs Hollern said: "Mr Conway's case is very sad.

"I sympathise with his wish for a dignified end to his life.

"At present the law does not permit assisted suicide and I appreciate Mr Conway's reasons for challenging the current position.

"There are a number of views as to whether assisted suicide should be legalised or remain unlawful.

"I hope that the Government will continue to look at how a sensitive practical arrangement for those in Mr Conway's situation might be found, subject to the appropriate checks being in place."

Any doctor who was found to help Mr Conway die would face up to 14 years in prison.

His lawyer, Richard Gordon QC, said the change to the law that Mr Conway wanted would apply only to adults who are terminally ill with less than six months to live and who have a settled wish to die.

No one from St Wilfrid's CofE Academy was available for comment.