12 years ago today I joined, what was then, MSRC as a very anxious new recruit as the new Website Manager. I started my first day with a website of 3500 pages, a frightening number by anyone’s standards, but for someone who had only ever built his own humour website of 40 pages, in pure html, it was a daunting prospect.
In those days MSRC was housed in a two room industrial unit and it was all very ‘cosy’, for that read crammed! The staff were very welcoming and friendly, and I am glad to say that has not changed over the next 12 years, although all but 2 of the original staff then went on to pastures new.
I first came across MSRC when I was diagnosed with ‘probable MS’ back in 2003 and I went internet searching for more information on my ‘supposed’ condition. The MSRC Helpline was so caring and understanding that they won my heart over to the charity in a heartbeat. Subsequently in 2016 it transpired I did not, in fact, have MS but something even rarer, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but that, as they say is a story for another day.
I started work less than 2 weeks before I took on the Virgin Money London Marathon on my elbow crutches. This was a once in a lifetime event, and I still do not know how I managed to get round the whole 26.2 miles, but somehow I did, and lived to tell the tale, and raised £18,332 in the process.
Since those early days I have watched the charity grow (and outgrow) its original base and be lucky enough to see it acquire our current offices at Unsworth House and the establishment also of Josephs Court our Wellness Centre.
In 2013 I was part of the probably the biggest single event in the charity’s history, when we became MS-UK. January that year was a total blur of meetings, and midnight oil burning as we designed a whole new website and everything else that goes with ‘re-branding’. The website went live just 15 seconds late, due to ‘someone’ forgetting to push ‘the button’ and looked, if I do say so myself, gorgeous.
I have overseen the five re-workings of the website to achieve our current one, now much sleeker than that 3500 page giant I inherited, but one that delivers what people today need, up to date MS information and news at their fingertips.
I’ve seen the MS-UK Helpline transform over the years into the one we have today, manned by the most caring, understanding and wonderful people you could wish for. I have helped set up the Live Web Chat service for the Helpline, which is reaching even more people affected by multiple sclerosis, not just in the UK but all over the world. It has been a roller coaster ride both personally and professionally over the past 12 years, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!
John aka Squiffy
MS-UK Digital Officer