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Guest Blog: Spencer tells us about him and Michael making ‘the impossible possible’

Posted on: June 25 2018

Spencer Freed and Michael - Total.jpgIn this guest blog, Spencer Freed, a personal trainer from Brixworth, tells us all about how he supported his friend Michael Niblett (who lives with autism) to take on a marathon!

'I met Michael 14 years ago through his mother Dinah as she was aware that I was a personal trainer. She approached me and asked if I would be able to train him. I was made aware of Michael’s autism and became determined to give this fine young man the opportunity to get fit within different environments such as the gym and running outdoors.

'As he gained confidence with me and in different social surroundings Michael agreed to enter a local six-mile running event in Northampton for some fun and as a focus to train. He managed to complete it and seemed to enjoy the feeling of achieving something.

'From this we decided to increase the distance as he developed trust in me. We went on to complete a Daventry 10-mile event and The Hyde Park Half Marathon in 2011. We raised funds for The Autistic Society, approximately £1,500.

'I certainly had the belief that Michael was capable of anything, and towards the back of 2017 we had a brief discussion about entering him into a marathon. Making the impossible possible was to be my mission in the year of 2018 and I suggested the Milton Keynes Marathon would be realistic in May. We certainly had the weather against us at the start of the year with snow still falling in March which delayed our outdoor sessions somewhat. We literally had eight weeks of preparation leading up to the big event.

'Over the course of eight weeks Michael had to face so many barriers when training for the marathon. I had to ask him to change what he eats and when he eats, run during unusual times of the day and at weekends. Due to his autism this was not an easy task, but he trusted me and was able to overcome these difficulties. We successfully managed to train up to 20 miles and felt as ready as we could be leading up to the event.

'Two weeks before the event we decided to raise some money for charity. I suggested that we could run for MS-UK as my working colleague lives with MS and was fully aware of the effects and problems it has on an individual and families supporting this. We set a low target to begin with and as the money came in it soon become obvious that friends, families and the general public were right behind us and they loved our commitment, passion and ambition to complete such a mammoth task.

'On the day of the event, 07 May, it was to be one of the warmest bank holidays on record. We had this against us and at mile ten of the race Michael became affected by the heat and fell to the concrete. I felt devastated for Michael and thought that he was unable to carry on for a brief moment. But through positive talk, motivation and his determination Michael got back onto his feet and together we managed to complete the next 16 miles. It was undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks I have ever done and to Michael a magic moment to savour for the rest of his life. It was a stadium finish with the crowd, family and friends behind him. He finished in six hours and six minutes. The emotion we both felt was beyond words. We did it!

'We made the impossible possible.

'Following the event it soon became clear that our target amount of money raised was totally smashed. We ended up raising over £3,000! It is so difficult to put this into perspective and we were totally blown away by everyone who supported us and offered kindness to us both.

'We have recently returned back to our regular training regime and Michael is absolutely certain he does not want to do it again next year! He keeps reminding me of this every time we head of out on a run!'

 

Chris Chandler Fundraiser of the Month

Posted on: May 10 2018

IMG_2802.JPGHats off to 100-marathon man Chris Chandler, our Fundraiser of the Month!

Since 2013, Chris has managed to complete 100 marathons in aid of MS-UK, racking up over 2,500 miles! What is the secret to Chris' success? We spoke to him to find out...

Can you tell us about your fundraising activities in aid of MS-UK?

I ran the Virgin Money London marathon in 2013 and 2014, the London to Brighton 100km (63 miles) challenge, the 15 marathons challenge in 2015, and the 30 marathons challenge in 2017. My 100th marathon, at Betteshanger Country Park, was also in celebration of MS-UK!

Can you tell us a bit about your connection to multiple sclerosis, and why you chose to fundraise for MS-UK ?

When my wife Jennie was diagnosed with MS in 2011 we turned to MS-UK for help. They were brilliant. They gave Jennie access to the help and support she needed at the time and ever since. I decided to do something to support the brilliant work they do for people living with MS. Now, seeing the centre grow and the facilities develop, it feels great to have played a part.

Do you have any highlights of your marathon career?

I have run several navigational races and normally get lost which adds to the fun! During the London to Brighton challenge in 2014, a fellow runner was following my head torch to help get over a stile but missed the jump and fell over in style!

Do you have any secrets to successful fundraising?

I found it easy to raise money the first time around as the 100 marathon challenge is a massive commitment that everyone is eager to see you complete. In the years that followed I have found events such as quiz and music nights really worked well. I hosted a fundraising penalty shootout which worked well too.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us?

For my next fundraising challenge I will be taking on a 100 mile run in Dover in 2019. As 63 miles is the furthest distance I have ever run, I feel like this will be my biggest challenge yet! If you would like to donate you can visit my JustGiving page!

 

Today #TeamPurple take on the marathon!

Posted on: April 22 2018

Photo of runner message for marathonIt's a beautiful day in the capital, and our amazing #TeamPurple runners are getting ready to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK.

They will be joining so many other dedicated charity supporters this morning, and at last count the event had raised collectively over £20,000,000 for charities!

So, why have our runners decided to get involved? Vic, from Essex, remembers watching her Dad run when she was a child. Now she's running in his footsteps, as he no longer can. Sue and Ellie-Rose are a mother and daughter team taking on the mighty 26.2 miles together. The Boland family are all in it together and have flown over from the USA to run today. So many reasons, but each one has been touched in some way by multiple sclerosis (MS).

All week we have been at the Expo event, meeting our runners and wishing them lots of luck.

Have a look at the messages of support, positivity and determination that they wrote on the MS-UK #TeamPurple runners wall in our Facebook album today!

For everyone running on 22 April 2018, whoever you're running for, good luck.

We'll be cheering you all on every step of the way!

You can follow MS-UK on Twitter to see marathon day live updates!

Expo has arrived!

Posted on: April 18 2018

Hi everyone,Photo of the MS-UK fundraising team

Today marks the beginning of Expo, four days of fun-filled excitment at ExCeL in London where runners taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon will be registering this week!

Every year over 100 runners run 26.2 miles in aid of MS-UK, raising thousands of pounds for us. Over 100,000 people in the UK live with multiple sclerosis, and we want to be able to provide our vital services to everyone who needs them, so every single penny they raise goes towards helping MS-UK continue our work.

The MS-UK fundraising team is ready to welcome #TeamPurple to Expo this week, so if you're coming along please say hi to us on stand 583!

Expo hours

Wednesday 18 April 11:00-20:00
Thursday 19 April 10:00-20:00
Friday 20 April 10:00-20:00
Saturday 21 April 09:00-17:00

We'll be live tweeting all week from Expo (and of course on marathon day itself this Sunday) so follow us on Twitter to stay updated!

Jill

Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

Running for Dad in this week's marathon!

Posted on: April 16 2018

In our Fundraiser of the Month article for April, Vic Darnell tells us why she is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK this weekend...and why every step will be for her Dad...Photo of Vic's dad running the marathon in 1986

When I was eight years old I remember joining thousands of other people lining the streets of London, waving and cheering as streams of people ran past. At the time I didn't really understand the enormity of what those people were doing, running mile after mile, some fast, some slow, some walking but all in the aim of completing 26.2 miles. Amongst those people was my Dad. 

Fast forward a few years and my Dad had to take every ounce of energy he had and a hell of a lot of drugs to pull himself out of his wheelchair and slowly holding tight on to me, walk a few steps down the aisle of a church on my wedding day. He had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) the year before and had his world turned upside down. From being fit and healthy, in the Police to being forced to take early retirement and a complete change of life. 

For years after I watched my Dad, I would watch the marathon on TV every year saying to myself 'one day', and since taking up running the itch has needed scratching so I decided the year I turned 40 to make my bucket list dream happen to take part in the most amazing marathon in the world.

As soon as I heard I'd been accepted to run for MS-UK I set the wheels in motion for my fundraising, looking at where I could start generating easy money with little effort whilst I planned a big fundraiser. Sponsorship started coming in as soon as I announced my challenge and as a Slimming World Consultant I have had amazing support from my members for my fundraising. I have a change pot in group and my members along with other groups in Chelmsford, Essex agreed for the next few months to have these for MS-UK. Everyone's odd 5ps, 10ps are really adding up to over £50 a month donated this way. Again members supported through donating their slimmed out of clothes which were swapped for cash and a Christmas raffle in my groups raised £284.

MS-UK charity night 3.jpgMichelle who runs Chelmer RoadRunners, a local running group which is where I first learned to run completing a couch to 5km course, sings in a local band and I approached her to sing at a charity night I was planning. Seen as she got me into the mess in the first place it seemed fitting to have her at the event! A local pub was the venue (free hire to maximise funds raised!) and with the fabulous entertainment, a raffle to be held. After hundreds of letters, emails and approaching local companies I managed to secure some great donated prizes and started selling raffle tickets to people who couldn't make the night, again to ensure I raised as much as possible. Promotion of the event went out on social media, posters up locally and great support from local papers - three have now printed my story to help further support!

The charity night went well, everyone had a fantastic time and most importantly a brilliant £1,186.06 was raised to bring my total fundraising over my initial aim of £2,500 - but I'm not stopping there - a sweepstake planned, further change pots and sponsorship will hopefully bring the total to £3,000, or more! Every penny will help MS-UK give amazing support to people like my Dad.

So now, the countdown is on till the big day itself where I shall be so proud to be running the same streets that my Dad did in 1986 (but not accepting his challenge of beating his time of 3 hours 35 minutes!)

You can sponsor Vic today online

 

Guest blog: Rosie's marathon for MS-UK!

Posted on: April 11 2018

With just over a week to go until the Virgin Money London Marathon, this guest blog is from Rosie Rollinson, who will be taking on the capital in aid of MS-UK! Read on to find out why she's running 26.2 miles all to raise vital funds so we can support people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS)...Photo of Rosie, MS-UK marathon runner

Hello!

My name is Rosie and I am in my second year of university, I am studying Politics at Leeds. I grew up in a very active family where Mum and Dad encouraged us to play team sports at school, took us on regular skiing holidays and liked us to push ourselves. Although not as athletically blessed as my brothers, I still took part and enjoyed every moment.

Upon arriving at university, hours spent doing physical activity dramatically dropped and by the end of my first year I knew I needed a challenge to get me going again. The Virgin Money London Marathon had always been on my agenda having watched my Mum train and run both London and New York for MS as a child and then more recently witnessed my older brother complete it. My Mum ran for multiple sclerosis for her brother who has lived with the disease for almost two decades…hence why MS-UK seemed an obvious choice for me! So one day as procrastination from some university work, I entered the ballot and applied to a couple of charities that were close to my heart, not really thinking anything would come of it. A couple of weeks later I received a call from Jenny who offered me a place for MS-UK, and I accepted it…and that is how I am here lining up to run the London Marathon!

Upon returning to university, I started my training plan…let me tell you nothing sorts out a hangover like a 5mile run in the cold! All was going well until the end of October when I started to get this searing pain in my foot every time I put it down, having ignored it for a while my friends dragged me to A&E and I heard every runners worse nightmare…you have a stress fracture. So I dutifully spent the next 7 weeks in a moonboot, doing very little and followed the doctor’s advice to the T as I returned to running. I am now well back on track, although I have to take it a little steadier than I would like, I have completed a half marathon in 2 and a half hours. I have three more long runs till the big day and the excitement is building with each week!

Finally, fundraising is going well! I have had some very generous donations from friends and family. My first sponsorship push was to write to all my Mum and Dad's suppliers and ask for donations, and golly were they charitable! Its been a busy couple of months juggling training, fundraising, university, eventing, working and maintaining some sort of social life but I wouldn’t have life any other way!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me and hopefully see you the other side of the finish line! 

You can sponsor Rosie today on her fundraising page!

 

Guest blog: Running for Mum

Posted on: April 05 2018

In this guest blog, Ryan Hallworth shares why he is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon this month in aid of MS-UK...

Back in October last year I decided to apply for the running of the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of raising money for MS-UK. It was less than a week later that I was delighted to receive the phone call that my application had been accepted.Photo of Ryan, MS-UK marathon runner

My Mum, who has had the condition for a number of years is the reason why I am running for MS-UK. 

Everybody who knows my Mum will agree, she is a completely selfless individual, always putting other people ahead of herself and has an admirable ‘just get on with it’ attitude towards her condition. By running the London Marathon for MS-UK, hopefully I am giving something back, however small it may be.

At the point of my Mum’s diagnosis, I wasn’t aware of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis nor had I heard of the condition at all, which, along with raising as much money as possible for MS-UK, is one of the main reasons I am sharing the fundraising as far and wide as possible – to raise awareness and understanding of the condition, which I know is an objective I share with the fantastic work that MS-UK undertake.

Having already raised in excess of £2,000 with over 7 weeks to go until the big day (at the time of writing this), the fundraising so far has been fantastic and has far exceeded the expectations I had. People’s kindness and generosity so far has been a huge source of motivation for those dark, freezing cold training runs which I have no doubt all the other runners for MS-UK are also enduring at the moment. 

Due to the recent weather conditions and a couple of injuries, I can’t say training has been straight forward but nonetheless, remains on-track and now approaches its latter stages with a few more long runs to go, before gradually tapering the distance down as race day approaches.

A massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far, it’s hugely appreciated by my Mum, MS-UK, my family and myself. I am hoping to keep the momentum going by reaching £2,500+ by race day so please read my story and donate if you possibly can by visiting my fundraising page.

Good luck to all the other MS-UK runners with the remainder of your training and fundraising.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

 

Guest blog: Setters & Lady’s London Pootle 2018

Posted on: March 30 2018

In our guest blog today, Setters and Lady (or Chris and Fran to normal people) tell us all about why they are taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK...Image of Chris and Fran at 2017 marathon

Why?

Because we can. That’s why we run…for those that can’t. Multiple sclerosis (MS) has had a great impact on both our families. Fran’s cousin has suffered very badly for over 30 years but was only diagnosed 8 years ago, and is now effectively immobile. It’s heartbreaking to see her this way. My mum was diagnosed in 2016. We are still coming to terms with her reducing mobility; as each month passes that little bit more is taken away from her. My parents sold their lovely home last summer, which they so dearly loved, and have moved into a new home much more suitable to her needs, and without stairs! My cousin, at 38, was also diagnosed at the same time. So we took the decision to do something special and to raise funds towards helping out those close to our hearts, and many others, inflicted by this horrible disease.

How?

We always say we’d do one. And kept saying it for years and years. Now, well past our prime and in our naughty forties, the marathon word finally became reality. No more excuses; it was time to make some serious cash for an MS charity. Fran had already secretly entered both of us into the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017 ballot, and the first I knew about it was when ‘a lucky you’ package came through the post congratulating me on my place. First time of asking as well! So with my place confirmed, MS-UK kindly gave a Gold Bond place to Fran with the plan being to run together and raise money to help those with MS. We did all sorts to raise funds including charity bucket collections, bake-offs, sweep stakes and organising quiz nights. We had fantastic support from family and friends via donations to our charity page, and as we requested, many gave a donation in lieu of our birthday and Christmas presents. Our son even asked for the same - top lad!

Training was ‘interesting’ and certainly much more time consuming and hard going than we ever predicted. The MS-UK Marathon Facebook page was so useful for tips and encouragement. It was inspiring to see how others were tackling the same challenges, supporting and encouraging each other daily. It was also, oddly enough, quite comforting to see that others found it hard going too…we weren’t alone!

The Big DayPhoto of Chris and Fran with MS-UK fundraising bucket

For those of you that have already run it, you will already know the crowds are just amazing; the shouts of constant support really hits you. Literally every mile is packed with people spurring you on. You certainly won’t need those motivating iPod beats that accompanied you on your training routes, and besides, you won’t be able to hear it! The buzz and the relief you get from crossing that line makes all that hard work worth it. The time doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. Who cares? The achievement; that’s what counts! Ride that wave, and you may even find you go faster than you planned. Fran managed a brilliant ‘Good for Age Time’, which meant…

Again?

…automatic entry next year! Wouldn’t waste that now. So despite saying we’d only run one, we are now doing it together all over again in 2018, and again for this wonderful charity. However, one massive difference stands out this time round: the weather. We had it great training up to and on the day for the London marathon in 2017; this time round it has been so pants!!! But that’ll make this years that little bit more special.

What next?

Another? Best ask us after we cross that line. Personally, I fancy a sponsored pub crawl!

Good luck everybody. We are all winners.

You can find out more and sponsor this amazing couple on their fundraising page. Good luck guys!

Guest blog: A marathon with Mum in mind...

Posted on: February 23 2018

vlm-e-news-image1-10.jpgAs my first long distance running event (or running event in general in fact)…I decided that I wanted to challenge myself and run the London Marathon 2018! Fully aware that this is going to be a great personal achievement, I figured to make it even more worthwhile, I would raise money for charity at the same time, so people are not only supporting me with my running but supporting a great cause!

I have chosen MS-UK as the charity which I am raising money for, for the support which they provide to those suffering with multiple sclerosis. My mum, who is also my best friend, suffers from MS and even though she never complains and shows unbelievable strength and fights her illness; I know how it can affect individuals, and it means a lot to my mum that I am doing this with her in my heart and mind, along with others in her position, as my main motivation.

In order to raise the £2,000 I am receiving great support from my friends, family and work colleagues via my ‘JustGiving’ page. I am putting on some fundraising events such as pub quiz in local village pubs, raffles with prizes which have been generously donated including tickets to Ipswich Town Football Club home match and Woburn Safari Park! I am also putting on a fashion show at a nearby M&Co. store (Diss, Norfolk)!

Although I have regularly attended the gym for a long time, I am new to long distance running outside until about November 2017. I have been following a 16 week marathon training programme ‘Beginner to Winner’ and I am very much on track with it all; I have also been attending Spin, Yoga and Pilates classes to help with my training. I am completing Colchester Half Marathon in March which fits in perfectly with my training schedule and again is all in aid of MS-UK!

Now the count down to the big day, and I have ascertained that it will be here in no time at all!

Jasmine Mulley, 24, Suffolk 

Based in Essex? Volunteer on your doorstep!

Posted on: February 22 2018

vlm-e-news-image1-6.jpgHello, The Colchester Half Marathon will be taking place on Sunday 25 March and MS-UK has been chosen as one of the charities to benefit from the funds raised from the event! We are really excited to be part of the big day, and I would like to invite you to join us! You could volunteer to be a marshal, help us cheer our hearts out at our water station or come along to Weston Homes Community Stadium to greet runners with a smile and good luck before the race begins. It is a truly brilliant day, and cheering on #TeamPurple is really rewarding.

Ben, who volunteered with MS-UK at last year's Colchester Half Marathon, says... ‘I have been volunteering at events with MS-UK for a while, but Colchester Half Marathon is right on my doorstep so last year I joined the MS-UK team who set up at the water station at mile 11. The atmosphere was buzzing! The runners really need a final boost near the end of the race, and I felt really proud to be part of the MS-UK cheer squad who gave them that – many runners also gave us a round of applause, which was brilliant!’

So if you, your friends and family want be part of a day to remember please get in touch! You can email Catherine or call us on 01206 226500. Here's to another fantastic event on our doorstep! Jill Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

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