Deciding to volunteer for the first time can be a scary thing. You see a post on Facebook, or a friend mentions an event to you, and you wonder if you’d enjoy it. Sometimes you just shrug it off and say ‘maybe next year’ to yourself, but sometimes you take a chance. If you’re thinking now is the time to take that chance, I wanted to share with you what your experience may be like if you join the MS-UK cheering squad.
There is something very special about volunteering at a national event…you realise we’re all in it together. Every race marshal, every charity, every runner, every cyclist, every volunteer – together we’re making it possible for the event to happen.
At MS-UK, we love supporting #TeamPurple, whether it’s at the RideLondon or the British 10k.
As you arrive in London in the morning, there is a sense of anticipation in the air.
The pavements may still be being swept and the barriers are being put along the side of the roads, but as you make your way to Trafalgar Square the buzz is already beginning. The four lions greet you and you know today will be a good day.
You exchange smiles with other volunteers, decked out in the all the colours of the rainbow to support their chosen charities, and as you approach the MS-UK cheering point you’re being greeted with a warm smile and asked if you’d like tea or coffee. As you pull a MS-UK t-shirt over your head you feel part of something truly awesome.
Whispers travel from cheering point to cheering point, and before you know it you are straining to see the first runners or cyclists as you hear that they have crossed the starting line. They keep coming, more and more, the roar of the crowd swells and you can’t help but join in, lifting your voice to shout encouragements at everyone who passes you by.
‘Come on Lilly!’
‘You’re rocking it Ahmed!’
‘Keep going David, you can do it!’
‘Just keep swimming – I mean running!’
‘You got this Katie!’
It doesn’t matter why they are taking part, whether it’s for charity, in memory of a loved one, for themselves to prove they can do it. You lock eyes with them, you raise your rapper clapper into the air and you cheer with all your might.
Of course there is a special kind of feeling when you spot someone in a purple MS-UK top, and you can sense the team around you glowing with pride and excitement.
At the end of the day, as you help take down the sail flags and gulp down water after all that cheering, you look around and realise you have not only made a difference, you have made friends for life. You ask me if you can just ‘hang on’ to the MS-UK t-shirt in case you ever think of volunteering again. I wave goodbye as you head to the nearest tube station or bus stop, but even as you get on board I know you won’t be able to help nodding to people as you spot medals and dirty trainers and charity t-shirts dotted everywhere. Everyone is tired. Everyone is sweaty. And everyone is smiling.
This is what a day volunteering with MS-UK as part of our cheer squad looks like. It’s hard work, it’s amazing fun, and you won’t be going it alone. Whether you are taking your first chance or have been coming along for years now, we’re in it together.
It’s that time of year again when the resolutions begin piling up and before you know it you have given up chocolate! Well, we don’t want to ask you to do something as drastic as that, but we would love it if you’d support MS-UK as we celebrate our 25th anniversary!
If health and fitness is your thing, why not join one of our fantastic events happening in 2018…
Colchester Half Marathon
MS-UK is based in Colchester, Essex so this one is right on our doorstep, and there’s still time to join the race! 2018 is a very special year for us too, as MS-UK will be charity partners for the Colchester Half Marathon on Sunday 25 March.
Join 25,000 pairs of feet as they pound the streets of one of the world’s most iconic capital cities on Sunday 15 July.
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100
On Sunday 29 July the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 will start in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before finishing on The Mall in central London.
I would love to welcome you to #TeamPurple, so do check out our website for lots more fundraising ideas. Whatever you do in 2018, we all wish you lots of luck!
Events Fundraiser, MS-UK
This month our fundraiser of the month is Joshua Joseph. Joshua ran the British 10k for us on 09 July and has been fundraising for the last month in support of MS-UK! Here is his story...
My name is Joshua Joseph, I’m 25 years old and I fundraised for MS-UK in the Virgin Sport British 10K run.
I chose MS-UK because very recently my best friend was diagnosed with MS. It’s in its infant stages, however I felt so lost and scared that the only thing I could do was try to raise some money and support the cause the only way I knew how. I did the British 10K in the past and thought this would be a good place to get fit and do something that showed support for my best friend.
In all honesty, I chose MS-UK because when I was looking online I really liked what I saw, plus I really liked the logo! I remember the day I found out about my best friend, this run literally came into my head and I thought it had to be done, that was my only drive to do this event.
I tend to keep quite fit, however cardio is my kryptonite, I think it always will be. I found myself out on some of the hottest days of the year, doing an odd 3K, 4K here and there. I remember one day I did an 8K and my knee was killing me, which made me realise that I needed to wear a strap when running. I wanted to have little sachets of peanut butter, but because of sheer laziness, that didn’t work out lol. I thoroughly enjoyed my training, I think that’s one thing you need to do. It’s a very serious thing and doing it really helps to get your mind in the right place. Training really allowed me to understand exactly how much my body could take.
I managed to raise (at the time of writing this) £1,206, my target was £1,000. I originally thought of aiming for £500 as I thought that might have been a push, however my friend said, ‘Go for a grand, you can do it…’ – So I did. I made the page on JustGiving.com and put the link on my Instagram and Facebook. I think because a lot of my friends have a large social following, the message spread quite quickly, that and the fact my first donation was £200, which came from a very close friend of mine, so that gave me a good bumper to start my fundraising.
In terms of fundraising, I would say don’t be shy when it comes to telling people that you’re raising money for something, especially when it’s such a great cause. I will continue to raise and I will continue to push myself to do different things.
This has been an amazing journey.
I honestly don’t think it’s set in for me that my best friend has MS yet. He was there when I was born, he named me, I honestly can’t think of a time we didn’t speak. So if by raising money, or simply answering a text or call when he’s annoyed is all I can do, I’m going to try my best to take care of him.
Hi everyone, I just want to say a massive well done to everyone who took part in the British 10k on Sunday 09 July in aid of MS-UK...you guys make our work possible!
It was a hot day (OK, it was a scorching day!) and you still got up early, made your way to our capital city and took to the streets in full force, wearing your purple with pride. It was fantastic to be a part of your day, and share in your achievement!
Our cheering point was definitely extremely loud and great fun to be on, and a massive thank you to all of our dedicated volunteers who clapped and cheered for hours to encourage all of the runners to keep going. We couldn’t make the day so special without you.
All of our runners have their own reasons for running, but all of you have one thing in common now – you have smashed the British 10k! And you have made a difference…the money you have raised helps us offer people a listening ear when they need one through our helpline, ensure someone gets New Pathways magazine landing on their doormat or it may pay for new exercise equipment at our centre in Essex. You are making our work possible, to help people affected by MS to really live life to the full and make the most of today.
The British 10k is today in London, and time to put all the hard training to the test that our wonderful runners have been training for over the last few months. This year we have a team of 23 runners, who have currently raised between them £5,500 for MS-UK which is amazing!
I just wanted to wish our MS-UK team, and everyone else who is taking part in the event a massive GOOD LUCK! I’m sure you will smash it!
We have a cheer point on Duncannon Street, which is near Trafalgar Square. If you are in London, feel free to come and join us and help us be the loudest cheer point on the 10k route.
If you want to take part for us next year do get in touch with me by email and I can pop you on a list to contact when we know next year’s date. The minimum fundraising requirement is £200 which is really achievable.
Now, go have an amazing day!
Hi everyone, I’m Sue Foley from Colchester (aka Purplepants). On Sunday 09 July, I’ll be returning to London to run in the British 10k, three years after running my first 10k event for MS-UK and my first ever event since starting my running journey in May 2014.
I still find it amusing that I donned some running shoes back then and even more surprising that I’m still pounding the pavements now. At 50 years young, I was a late starter! I was inspired to run having watched the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2013 from Tower Bridge. It simply gripped me so much that I felt the need to be doing something positive and challenge myself. My best friend and partner had passed away suddenly the year before so I was feeling somewhat lost in grief.
My childhood neighbour and friend Keith had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in March 2012, so I decided I’d like to fundraise for MS-UK, the charity that had helped him during the early days of his diagnosis. I contacted MS-UK to apply for one of their Gold Bond places at the Virgin Money London Marathon. What on earth was I thinking? I hadn’t even run 100 metres, let alone 26.2 miles! When I received the phone call to say I’d been offered a place, I burst into tears. It was an honour to be able to represent the charity. Fortunately, I had a whole year to fundraise and prepare myself mentally and physically for a running adventure.
My first port of call was to attend parkrun, a free, weekly 5k timed run which takes place all over the Country. I continued with parkrun alongside bootcamp and gym classes. Early in July 2014, Sam who worked at MS-UK phoned to ask if I’d like to get some experience in taking part in the British 10k. Another runner had suffered an injury, so Sam asked if I’d like to step in to replace them. It was short notice, yet I knew this would be a valuable exercise. I felt in good shape, though in reality I had only been running up to a 5k distance. I was up for the challenge all the same, realising I’d have to be sensible with my pacing.
With a week until the race, I set up an online JustGiving page which I shared via my social media and I was encouraged to see donations soon coming through. I had my name put on my running vest, so all that was left was for me to get to the start.
Race day arrived with an early alarm call. I remember feeling slightly anxious and excited. On arrival in London I remember heading across one of the bridges and noticing several people in running kit. It was my natural instinct to follow, assuming they’d all know where to go. I spoke to one runner just for reassurance that I was going the right way for the bag drop. Once I’d put my belongings in the bag drop, I proceeded to the start area. I remember vividly hearing the Chariots of Fire music sounding out as we walked through Admiralty Arch at Trafalgar Square. My eyes welled up, it was emotional to be amongst hundreds of runners, many of whom were wearing their respective charity’s vests.
The atmosphere leading towards the start line was special as I stood side by side so many strangers, yet friends also, in a sense that we were united in representing our chosen causes. Once I crossed the line, I smiled trying to take in all the sights. Music was playing along the course and spectators cheered the runners enthusiastically. I was given a boost hearing people call out my name. Running over Westminster Bridge felt surreal. I paused for a moment to capture a photo on my phone. Let’s face it, it’s not every day you get to run in the Capital City.
Approaching the finish, I remember coming along Whitehall and spotting the same runner I’d asked directions from at the start. We crossed the line together high fiving one another in victory.
I’m excited to be putting on my purple MS-UK vest (and purple everything else!) and joining the other fabulous MS-UK fundraisers running at the British 10k. My philosophy is ‘finish lines, not finish times’, having said that, I’d like to shave off 7 minutes of my 2014 time if possible. I’m extremely proud that through my running efforts I’ve raised over £5,000 for MS-UK over the past few years and helped to raise awareness of the charity’s work in my locality. I’ve also volunteered and been known to step into the mascot Myles’ shoes on occasions. Fundraising, volunteering and taking part in events for MS-UK has been fulfilling, fun and certainly helped given me focus and purpose. I hope I may inspire others to do the same.
Summer has finally arrived and what great weather we are having…perfect running weather!
Team MS-UK stands at 25 runners for the British 10k, but we need more! Come and join us, and every penny you raise will help us make a difference to people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
You have until this Thursday 29 June at 12pm to join our team…our minimum sponsorship is £200…so that’s just 20 of your friends sponsoring you £10 each. £200 could pay for over 100 newly diagnosed booklets for people diagnosed with MS…that’s the difference you could make by taking part in the British 10k!
The British 10k is the ultimate foot-tour of London. You’ll take in landmarks from Piccadilly to Whitehall whilst running the route that races past Regent Street, Trafalgar Square, Embankment, Westminster Bridge and Westminster Abbey.
There will be music at every kilometre along the course to keep you motivated along the way…and of course, we’ll be there to cheer you on! Family and friends are welcome to join our cheering point, and it’s a brilliant morning out in our capital.
Email me or give me a call on 01206 226500 and register now!
In this guest blog, Gemma tells us why she is running the British 10K 2017 for MS-UK...
Hi my name is Gemma, and I’m going to be taking part in the British 10K 2017 for MS-UK.
In April 2005 I met James. From the moment we met we just clicked as if we had known each other for years. There and then I knew I had met my best friend and the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and we have been together ever since.
In December 2006 I finished work as usual and walked home to get dinner on, ready for when James arrived home from work. When he stepped in the door I noticed that half of his face had dropped. At first I thought he had had a mini stroke!
While we waited for the taxi to beep that it was here, to take us up to A&E we discussed what it could be. ‘MS’ James said. His mum passed away when he was 9 years old. She had MS and was bed ridden. She had pneumonia and was not strong enough to fight it when she sadly passed away.
At the hospital he was told that he had to stay in over night to be monitored to then have an MRI test in the morning. I had to say goodbye and that night I stayed with my in-laws.
In the morning my phone rang. It was James. I answered it and he was just sobbing. At first I couldn’t make out what he was saying. ‘Demyelination’ he said. ‘What does that mean?’ I replied. ‘MS’.
That was the day our life changed for ever. At first we thought it was a death sentence. But it isn’t, it just means that you have to grab hold of life now!
In November 2007 we had our first child, a beautiful baby girl. But James was struggling at work. He is a fully qualified chef and has a passion for food. But little did we know that the heat/stress of the kitchen was flaring up his MS. So he went into butchery the following year but this also became difficult too. This was hard for me to watch.
In September 2009 we had our second child, a handsome baby boy. Our family was complete but James was now having 3-5 relapses a year. He was told to give up work. Every time he got over one e.g. loss of legs, sight. Another would hit him. I was now not working, to care for him too. He was also now on beta interferons injections. These were very painful and didn’t seem to be slowing the disease down, this scared me.
In August 2010 we moved from Norfolk to Hertfordshire. New doctors, new neurologist, new MS Nurse, it wasn’t easy. The relapses were still happening violently, especially on his left side.
In June 2011 James started Natalizumab (Tysabri) infusions every 28 days, these have been working, thankfully he hasn’t had a relapse since starting them.
It’s now 2017 and for the first time I feel like we have got this. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a massive hurdle in our life and there are good days and bad but you just have to try your best to adapt, to find a way to try and be a so-called ‘normal’ family.
I am doing this run now as I feel the time is right. James is my hero, he never moans, he just takes it one day at a time. I’m so proud of him and the way he handles it. Now it’s my turn to make him proud and be his hero.
I also want to show our children if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything.
Hi everyone, Next week we will be sending out our fundraising e-newsletter, and we wanted to let you know you can subscribe today just by visiting our website. Packed full of events news, top tips and fundraising ideas and inspiration, we send out this e-newsletter once a month. Subscribe today and stay up to date with all of our team news! Best wishes, Nick Nicholas Adams, Fundraising Assistant
Next week we will be sending out our fundraising e-newsletter, and we wanted to let you know you can subscribe today just by visiting our website.
Packed full of events news, top tips and fundraising ideas and inspiration, we send out this e-newsletter once a month.
Nicholas Adams, Fundraising Assistant
I'm Jill the new Fundraising Manager here at MS-UK. I've been here a month now and have been getting to know the place and the services we offer. I'm so impressed with the great support MS-UK offers to people living with MS and their families. I've spoken to clients and carers at our Josephs Court Wellness Centre. There's a real buzz about this place. The positive impact people get from coming here is clear both physically but maybe more important is the social element and being part of this highly supportive community.
I've seen the comfort our Helpline Advisors offer by answering some really varied questions from 'I'm thinking of getting a dog, how will this affect my MS' to 'I've recently been diagnosed with MS, what does the future hold for me?'
I've also read a few issues of our bi-monthly magazine, New Pathways and have been inspired by stories sharing the courage and determination from people living with MS. I love what we do here and I'm part of a great team. I'm so revved up to maximise our fundraising events and activities to ensure we sustain and grow to be able to reach out to more and more people.
I started my journey in fundraising back in 2009. I moved away from the big smoke to the leafy suburbs of North Essex and wanted to integrate into my new community quickly. I joined Colchester Ladies Circle, the female arm of Round Table promising fun, friendship and fundraising. I found myself having great fun organising charity balls, race nights and even a Carnival raising money for good causes in my community. I loved fundraising so much I decided to make it my day job and joined the fundraising team of our local Hospice. I gained a wealth of experience in fundraising through lots of initiatives including an apprentice style challenge for businesses, mass events such as The Midnight Walk and Bike Rides through to lavish balls, quiz nights and talent shows.
Outside of work you'll find me on the side lines cheering for my sons' football teams (oh and I fundraise for the football team too!) or keeping our young daughter busy with swimming, baking and running around in the park. I like to work hard and play hard, but it’s all good fun and I've met some great people along the way!
It's a busy time of year for us in fundraising so I'm pleased to say that along with Nick and Jenny (who joined the same week as me) we are a full team. We're currently putting the finishing touches on the Virgin Money London Marathon, which is less than a month away. This year we have 111 fantastic, fit people running for MS-UK, we can’t wait for Super Sunday!
Preparations for the British 10k and RideLondon are also well under way. We still have some places so if you want to get fit for summer and achieve your goals join our teams for these two prestigious London Events.
We are really keen to spread the word and get as many people involved with our fundraising as possible. Weather you love getting active or prefer having a cuppa and a cake we have loads of fun, creative ideas to help make your fundraising a great success. We rely solely on our supporters to run our services so if you would like to help us raise some money and support people living with MS please get in touch with Nick, Jenny or myself. We'd love to hear from you.
Cannot wait to meet you all soon,