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Fundraiser of the Month - Sharon Asher

Posted on: May 20 2019

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Congratulations to Sharon Asher who is this May's Fundraiser of the Month! Back in September, Sharon travelled to Scotland to cycle the slopes around the shores of the famous Loch Ness in aid of MS-UK. We caught up with her recently so she could tell us what it was like to take on a gruelling 65-mile cycle race with no previous cycling experience...

I signed up to the Etape Loch Ness cycle event last September. A close friend had decided that we would become the 'Invernairne Try Team', a team of four who would undertake challenges to test ourselves and keep fit. The initial plan was to try a triathlon, but somehow we ended up entering the Etape Loch Ness, a 65-mile cycle event that starts and finishes in Inverness, and which takes 5,600 cyclists around Loch Ness, offering spectacular views and scenery alongside some physically and mentally challenging climbs. I decided that if I was going to attempt it, I should try to raise money for a charitable cause and I chose MS-UK. Thankfully, deciding to ride for a cause kept me going to the finish line.  

My mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1973 when I was ten years old. Back then there was little in the way of help and support and life wasn’t easy for my mum or us as a family. Sadly my brother has recently been diagnosed with MS but hopefully, with advances in research, medication, therapy, and support, his experience will be a lot more positive. I also think that by fundraising it has brought awareness to the fact that my brother has the condition and recognition of the issues faced by those diagnosed with what is often a misunderstood condition. 

I chose MS-UK because they support and encourage those with MS to continue to live life and challenge themselves. They also offer invaluable support through the MS-UK Helpline, MS-UK Counselling and the excellent magazine, New Pathways. I feel that if we previously had access to some of the services offered by MS-UK, life for us a family might have been a little easier.  

I think the biggest challenge was the fact that neither the rest of my team or I were experienced cyclists. We were all quite fit for our respective ages but most of our training over the winter had to be indoors, as with short days and icy mornings we couldn’t really get out on the bikes until March. We also had the challenge of the five-mile hill hanging over us, and all we could do was push ourselves on indoor bikes with no idea what lay in store. 

When we finally hit the road on the day, we had survived a few crashes and miscommunications, learned how to change a bike tyre, and stocked up with jelly beans to keep us going, but the furthest we had cycled was 40 miles. Thankfully the weather was kind and we all managed to complete it without any disasters. My indoor training really paid off and I am delighted to report that I finished in the middle of the pack and managed to stay on my bike up the five-mile climb. It was tough though and I was so relieved to hear the piper who welcomes riders to the top. Never has the sound of bagpipes been so welcome!

From then on it was almost all downhill, with a few nasty but shorter climbs thrown in to keep you focused. Thankfully the road home was dotted with fabulous volunteers - their encouragement was invaluable to seeing us all home. 

Would I do it again? Well, I did it enjoy it and I’ve registered interest for next year. I don’t have to make my mind up until September, but it would be a shame not to tackle it again with a bit more training and experience. However, having said that, we’ve still got a triathlon to attempt and as I’m a rubbish swimmer, the next challenge may have to be in the swimming pool. To be honest, I think I’d rather tackle that hill again! 

I have always felt that it is important to challenge yourself, and while I am fortunate to be fit and healthy enough to take on new challenges, I’ll continue to try new things. Hopefully, the money raised, with the help of MS-UK, will encourage those with MS to not give up, find ways to make the most of life and overcome their personal challenges. 

For fundraising, I used JustGiving, mainly because it makes it easy to share your page on social media and enables you to post updates to keep your donors informed. It also deals with Gift Aid, which added another £500 to my fund. Emailing the link to my friends and family and sharing updates on Facebook was invaluable. I also feel that it is essential to thank your donors personally and I took time to thank them individually on Facebook and by email if I had their email address. 

Do something different for MS-UK!

If you would like to try your hand at fundraising for MS-UK, contact Lucy on 01206 226 500, or email lucy@ms-uk.org.

MS-UK cyclists raise over £20k at Prudential RideLondon in the rain...

Posted on: July 30 2018

Hello,Photo of #TeamPurple at RideLondon 2018

Yesterday we had a huge team of 55 taking on the iconic Prudential RideLondon for MS-UK. The weather conditions were not the best and our cyclists were certainly challenged by the elements! They had to deal with constant rain, which affected visibility and high winds which turned the rain horizontal. The rain brought up muck on the roads, and one of our team members endured 6 punctures along the course! But they all completed the event with determination and a smile on their faces. During this 100 mile cycle event, cyclists whizzed past the iconic sights of London and took on the world-famous zig-zags of Box Hill.

I would like to say a huge thank you to #TeamPurple for taking on this ultimate cycle challenge, and for working so hard training and fundraising – especially in the hot conditions the UK has been experiencing recently. So far as a team you have raised a whopping £21,656! MS-UK are so thankful for this amazing effort...it means we can support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS) and make sure we’re here to listen and offer information when we’re needed.  

As always, we can never do these events without our trusty volunteers! From cheering to handing out snacks, you were amazing at supporting our cyclists on the day, and you never seem to run out of that #TeamPurple energy and spirit - even in the pouring rain! If you fancy being part of the cheer squad, we would love your help supporting #TeamPurple at our events – just visit our website for more info. 

Check out our Facebook photo album of our fantastic cyclists!

If this has inspired you to cycle the Prudential RideLondon for MS-UK, please do get in touch with me as recruitment for the 2019 team will be open shortly! Just email me or give me a call on 01206 226500.

Thank you again to everyone involved – you make our work possible!

Best wishes,

Jenny

Events Fundraiser

Calling all cyclists! It’s your last chance to sign up to Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 2018!

Posted on: May 18 2018

IMG_1057.JPGIf you want to take part in this year’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey on behalf of MS-UK, you will need to sign up by next Tuesday 22 May.

The event on 29 July, which takes riders one hundred miles through the closed streets of London and into the suburbs of Surrey, promises to be an unforgettable experience for anyone lucky enough to be sat behind the handlebars!

If you would like to book your place, contact Jenny Poulter via email or calling 01206226500.