'My name is James Harrison. I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2014 following on from around two years of unexplained relapses in both physical and neurological difficulties. I put the relapses down to stress as I was working my first professional job and was put under an immense amount of pressure. This work stress lead me to change my job to something much less stressful, although still unaware I had an underlying condition.
'After having a relapse where I experienced the pins and needles, I got in touch with my GP to see what was happening. I had pushed the idea of MS to back of my mind and was sure it must be something else, something much less serious. This then triggered the need for an MRI scan to determine what sort of neurological activity was happening. Not long after the MRI scan I was called for a consultation and given the diagnosis of having relapsing remitting MS.
'After the diagnosis started to sink in I was hit with an immense amount frustration, confusion, uncertainty and depression. Thankfully though, I was engaged to a very loving and caring woman, who did everything possible to keep my spirits up in the weeks that followed my diagnosis. My fiancée came with me to my first appointment with my MS nurse who discussed medication options. I decided to take Rebif Interferon as this was an injection three times a week and seemed the best option. Getting used to being on the medication was a lot to adjust to. Not being afraid of taking injections three times a week was definitely a shock to the system. The aftereffects left me groggy and also left me with an increased appetite causing me to gain weight.
After only 6 months of being on the medication, I was moved on to Copaxone due to increased liver functions. This was an injection every day and took some getting used to and the injection sights were becoming more noticeable. About a year of being on the medication I found myself feeling I had control over my condition and moved myself back into a job role that would challenge me and offer future prospects.
From there it was life as normal leading up to my 30th birthday were I was able to cross off the head line of my bucket list, a skydive, which my wife surprised me with on the morning of my birthday!
It was the most exhilarating experience of my life and I came down a changed man as I felt 'if I can do that, I can do anything'! It was even more amazing to learn afterwards, my wife and family had secretly been raising money for MS UK. In the end we managed to raise £505.00. I have always wanted to raise money for MS but never got round to doing it, so having my birthday surprise double up as a sponsorship was a great idea. I learnt afterwards that my wife had not only been raising money but also awareness of MS, especially amongst her work colleagues.
Next for me and my wife is the news that we will be parents in December. This is something I have been waiting for my whole life and couldn’t be happier.
This will be another huge change for us both and will undoubtedly lead to some very tired times as well as many happy times. However, the place I am at with my MS, I know I will be able to manage any future changes and remain positive, and similarly with my condition whatever the outcome maybe.
My team mate Paul Reynolds and I decided to compete in this year’s Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race to raise awareness and funds for two charities, one of which is MS-UK. We are team Forget Me Not! We both have friends and family living with multiple sclerosis (MS), so we have seen first-hand the challenges it can bring to someone’s life and that is why we decided to set our very own challenge. We will be paddling 125 miles in a Canadian Canoe or C2, while portaging 77 times over the Easter weekend, from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster Bridge in London. It seemed like the perfect challenge to help us raise money for and awareness of MS.
The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race has been held annually over the Easter weekend since 1948 and this year is its 70th anniversary.
The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, followed by 55 miles along the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning, with the unpredictable British weather adding a further challenge.
We’ve been doing lots of training and I will say that rolling an open C2 into the freezing River Thames as part of our capsize drill, when you’re nice and warm wearing your multiple layers, does take your breath away!
Our target is to raise £10,000, so if you would like to donate to our efforts please visit our Team Forget me Not for MS-UK fundraising page.
‘Doing a skydive has always been the top of my bucket list, so when I finally built up the nerve, doing it for charity really was a no brainer. Being able to have this amazing experience and raise money for a great cause…how amazing!
‘I knew straight away I wanted the money to go to a multiple sclerosis (MS) charity and after doing some research MS-UK really stood out to me.
‘My Gramps suffered with MS for a long time and my only memories of him are in a wheelchair but he always had a smile on his face. The care he received was always great so I am so pleased to be able to contribute to help other people.
‘I am so overwhelmed by how much I have raised so far and am desperate to reach £1,000 by the time it comes to my jump! I’m excited about it now but when it comes down to it I think I might have to be pushed out of the plane!!
We are really pleased to say Laura has smashed her £1,000 target, but you can still donate on her JustGiving page today!
Your donations help MS-UK support even more people affected by multiple sclerosisto really make the most of today and live life to the full. Thank you!
Our fundraiser of the month this month is Wendy Cole, who ran a 100k ultra challenge for MS-UK on the 27 May!
Hi! My name’s Wendy Cole. In August 2015 I took part in my first 100km ultra challenge, London2Cambridge. I’m a runner who fancied a change, so decided I would walk the route. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided pretty quickly that I would take on another challenge, this time the London2Brighton 100km challenge on the 27 May, raising funds for MS-UK.
Back in 2014 I was very fortunate to receive a charity place with MS-UK in the Virgin Money London Marathon and found them so supportive prior to and during the race that it was a pleasure to get the opportunity to raise funds for them again.
I lost my Mum in 1997 at the age of 50 to Primary Progressive MS, so this is a cause very close to my heart and it’s great to be able to raise awareness of this disease and the work MS-UK do, supporting those affected by MS.
So, in July last year I signed up for London2Brighton in memory of my Mum. I knew I’d completed the distance before but also knew that this challenge would be much hillier. Too right it was!!! There’s a particularly huge hill at 88km, just where you don’t need one.
Again I decided to walk this ultra. I’ve run 11 marathons and 32 half marathons and found walking with a full rucksack quite different from running. You’re on your feet much longer, which is tiring, and you’re using different muscle groups, so ache in different places.
In the lead up to the big day, my training consisted of running three marathons, Brighton on 09 April, London (guide running with a visually impaired runner) on 23 April and Stratford on 07 May. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running three marathons in five weeks!! I also walked the canal route from Worcester to Birmingham (28.4 miles) two weeks before the challenge.
At 8am on Saturday 27 May I set off from Old Deer Park in Richmond with just over 1500 other eager participants taking on the full challenge. The heavens opened just 0.6 miles from the start, but the rain stopped by the time we’d got our macs out. It was then dry for the remainder of the challenge. We walked day and night, on road and off road, over numerous stiles, taking in short refuelling stops every 25 kms or so at the checkpoints until we reached our final destination at Brighton Racecourse at 7.06am…still smiling, and for me, blister free.
I’m delighted to have exceeded my fundraising target of £300 and would like to thank Nick Adams from MS-UK for regularly making contact with me, offering support and generally seeing how my training was going.
My recovery’s been good. Two days after the event I felt pretty normal again and even managed to wear a kitten heel to work!!
I often wonder what my Mum would think of me now. I was a total couch potato until I hit the age of 40, so she has never seen any of these achievements. She’d probably think I was bonkers!!
Anyway, time for a little rest now…until the next challenge. I’m running New York Marathon in November and Tokyo Marathon in February, so will have a few weeks off over the summer until training starts again.
So, everything for your friend’s wedding day has been planned, the day is getting closer and you’ve suddenly been asked as best man and woman to organise the stag night and hen do. Nightmare! You can’t think of anything to do!
Well, we believe we have found the answer.
We were discussing in the office what the most inventive and memorable stag or hen do would be, and as we discussed it, we realised that the answer was right under our noses and sitting at my desk the whole time. The most inventive stag/hen do would definitely be to go skydiving!
Thinking about it, we had seen skydives done before on some TV shows for stag/hen do’s and we thought it was the perfect day of pre wedding fun and would be a good way make the big day far less daunting for the bride and groom. You could also skydive during the day and then by night hit the town with your friends!
So, the other reason it would be the perfect stag do of course, would be that you can book it through MS-UK and fundraise for us at the same time. This would also make the jump completely free if you manage to raise the sponsorship minimum of £395 each. Leaving you with some extra money to treat your groom or bride to that big night out!
You’ll also do several amazing things all at the same time...Support MS-UK and the services we provide, jump out of a plane at 10,000ft which is no small achievement and finally give your bride and groom an experience and a story they’ll never forget!
So if you are the best man or woman, or know someone that will be, maybe this could be the opportunity of a lifetime for them!
Get in touch with me at Nicholas@ms-uk.org or call me on 01206 226500 for more information on skydives! Alternatively, if you’d like to go straight to booking, please follow this booking link and fill out the form!
Love is literally in the air this Valentine’s day!
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and a lot of people I know are trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones! Maybe they’ve bought an amazing bouquet of flowers, a massive heart shaped box of chocolates or are treating themselves to a night in by the telly.
We at MS-UK, however, like to go a bit more extreme with our valentine’s gifts. We like to send people off to scream about their love from 10,000ft!!
Yes, I’m talking about a skydive for MS-UK!
We have a fantastic offer that has been passed to us by Skyline that is not to be missed! When you sign up to any event on skyline you can get two for the price of one on the registration fee. This means for a skydive you only pay a £70 registration fee for two of you to jump and if you raise over £395 each (£790 together), you’ll even get this cost back, making your jump effectively free!
This could be the most unique and perfect valentine’s gift for you and a loved one. But it’s not just limited to your valentine! You could also take the leap with your best pal or even that guy from down the street, the choice is yours!!
If you are interested in the offer and skydiving for MS-UK, you can use the code ‘SkylineValentine’ when booking on the skyline website here. This offer ends on 14 February at midnight, so be quick! Please also get in touch with me if you’d like a bit more information, my details are below!