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A Midsummer Night's Ball...

Posted on: June 25 2019

Image of MS-UK Summer Ball tables and prizesHi everyone,

On Friday 21 June we held our annual MS-UK Summer Ball with the theme of a Midsummer Night. Our games, entertainment from The Lisa Graham Duo, alongside our sensational auction and raffle produced donations that we couldn’t be more grateful for, truly signifying how much a success the night was.

We managed to raise a staggering £17,010! This will go so far in helping us support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), thank you so much to everyone who attended!

Over 140 of you came along, fromour trustees, clients, marathon runners, volunteers, networking groups to our community champions. We kick-started the night with an entertaining quiz, the heads and tails game that was themed appropriately with summer themed questions, of course.

Following some entertainment, the auction was on its way. With an outstanding ten prizes on offer generously donated by various companies and people, there was a lot to bid for. From an Anthony Joshua signed glove, a spa break for two at Champneys, Six Nations 2020 tickets to a private BBQ for 20 guests, there was huge variety! Similarly, our raffle prizes had the wow-factor to match. From the three course dinner for two, a Bose portable speaker, to the family portrait photo shoot, there was a lot to play for.

Image of Gregg with guests at the summer ballCertainly the prizes were astounding but the reason everyone attended was for a much more heart-warming reason. It was to help us raise thousands of pounds so we can be here now and in the future. With the support of so many amazing people at events like this, we are able to offer our vital services to more people living with MS.  

Gregg Rice, an attendee of our Summer Ball said ‘I like to support MS-UK as my partner is affected by MS. I’ve run two marathons as I’ve felt it’s important to support what MS-UK do. Again, this was another fantastic night raising money for such a worthwhile charity, and I’ve felt truly humbled by the atmosphere there’.

We would like to warmly thank all those that donated prizes for our raffle and auction and to all those that attended to bid for them. You made it a very magical evening. 

See you next year!

Best wishes, 

Jill

Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

 

Discover our volunteering opportunities!

Posted on: June 03 2019

Hello everyone,Photo of Sarah from MS-UK

This week is national Volunteers' Week and we are celebrating by saying a big thank you to our amazing volunteers. Last year over 130 people volunteered with MS-UK in all sorts of ways. Together you donated 500 hours of time to MS-UK and helped us be here for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS). We literally couldn't do it without you, thank you!

This year we have lots of opportunities to get involved. You could join our fantastic cheer squad and support our fundraisers to make it over the finish line at a national event. Or you could come into our offices in Essex and get stuck in behind the scenes. We are also currently looking for volunteer counsellors to help us offer telephone counselling to more people who may need it across the UK. 

Visit our volunteer vacancies page

Whatever you decide to do, we'll be here every step of the way to support you. You can share your skills and develop new ones, gain some experience working with a national charity and we provide you with a full induction and ongoing support. 

In the mean time, you can find out more about Volunteers' Week across the country on the NCVO website. If you already support MS-UK, don't forget to download our Twibbon to show the world you are part of #TeamPurple

Best wishes and happy volunteering!

Sarah

Sarah Wright, General Managervolunteers week leader.jpg

Wow - thank you Colchester Half Marathon 2019!

Posted on: May 20 2019

On Sunday March 23, more than four thousand people took to the streets of Colchester to be part of the towns’ biggest community sporting event the year, the Colchester Half Marathon.

The event is organised by a group of volunteers from Colchester Colne Round Table who work tirelessly throughout the year to stage this fantastic event. All the proceeds from the race are shared between local charities. 

This year MS-UK were lucky enough to have been chosen as the main charity beneficiary for the event. Brain injury charity Headway Essex were the other charity partners. MS-UK worked closely with the organisers and recruited a team of over 100 volunteers and 50 runners to support the event.

Taking on a half marathon is brave enough, but not enough of a challenge for MS-UK’s long term supporter Clare Thompson and her running buddy Dave, who completed the course wearing an MS-UK branded purple tyre!

It was a great day, everyone had loads of fun and the Great British weather was exceptionally kind to us too.

This week MS-UK received a very handsome donation of £48,750 from the event. Jill Purcell, MS-UK’s Fundraising Manager said 'We are delighted to receive such a fantastic sum of money raised from the event. The amount is equivalent to MS-UK being able to provide specialised supervised exercise sessions to more than 50 clients for a whole year at Josephs Court, our wellness centre in Colchester. Thank you to the Colchester Half Marathon committee, and all runners and volunteers for their generous support. It is always a great event which significantly benefits the local community too'.

Every penny raised from the Colchester Half Marathon helps MS-UK support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), by raising awareness of the condition and offering services like our helpline, MS-UK Counselling and New Pathways magazine.

Thank you so much to all involved and our amazing #TeamPurple runners!

Inspired? Get in touch with our fundraising team today!

Ready to run? The marathon ballot is open!

Posted on: May 01 2019

Photo of MS-UK marathon runnerHello,

We can't quite believe it but we have just seen another Virgin Money London Marathon take place and it was amazing to see so many #TeamPurple runners taking on the challenge in aid of MS-UK! Thank you to every single person who made the day so special. 

Now we're looking to next year and the date has been announced - 26 April 2020! The ballot for the Virgin Money London Marathon is now open, so visit the website to register today! It will close this Friday at 5pm, 03 May. 

Register for the ballot

Good luck everyone!

Jill

Fundraising Manager

Fundraiser of the month - Sue is taking on the marathon!

Posted on: April 23 2019

2019 - Blog Banners.png

 

As this week sees the Virgin Money London Marathon happening our Fundraiser of the Month in April is Sue Bennett. Living with multiple sclerosis herself, Sue feels she has even more of a reason to raise funds for MS-UK...

 

I started supporting MS-UK in 2014 when my running buddy and I decided to participate in a running challenge of three marathons in three weeks, with London being the finale of the trio. Having missed out on the ballot we were given the chance of a place with MS-UK, which was a good fit because I’ve had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis since my late 30s. I was immediately hooked and have been fundraising for the last five years now. I’ve raised a total of £16,372.20 so far!

This year will be my fifth marathon, all of which were charity bond places with MS-UK. Each marathon has been special in its own way; two have been with my buddy Debbie Germain, one was with my husband, last year I ran with my daughter and this year I will be by myself. The trio of marathons was an epic challenge though and a very proud moment.

Without a doubt the end of the race is very special, you are treated like a superstar by the charity and they look after you as though you have just won the gold medal.

When it’s come to raising the funds for each race I’ve organised lots of different events. I have done a quiz night a few times, various raffles, I had race entries donated for me to auction, as well as a private run coaching session with Shane Benzie.

I organise a yearly Halloween and Christmas 5k night run around Greenham Common Air Base, a fantastic spectacle of lights moving around the Common in the pitch black with medals, hot soup or mulled wine at the end.

I have a Rock and Roll Bingo evening next month where you have to guess snippets of songs and cross off bingo numbers, which should be fun.

One of my more notorious fundraisers was with my buddy Debbie. We produced a Naked Runners Calendar, with 12 of our male running friends all tastefully photographed by our photographer friend, they all have appropriately placed props of course! The calendar sold for £10 and proved to be very popular.

I’d definitely encourage anyone who’s been thinking about supporting MS-UK to give them a call. They will support you just as much as you support them.

If you would like to support Sue Bennett in her fundraising efforts for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, visit her JustGiving page

MS Awareness Week 2019 is nearly here...

Posted on: April 15 2019

Hello,Cover image of MS-UK Choices Exercise booklet

Next week will mark MS Awareness Week 2019. This year we’re very excited to be working alongside the MS Trust and the National MS Therapy Centres to raise awareness of the benefits of exercise.

We have developed a free booklet all about exercise which includes some seated exercises to help you get started. We hope you find this useful and it includes first-hand quotes from other people who have been in your position - people who can truly understand and empathise with your feelings about exercise. 

We hope you enjoy the booklet and don't forget to get involved next week on social media using the hashtag #MSAW2019.

Best wishes,

The MS-UK Helpline team

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University of Essex host the MS Olympix - and we were invited!

Posted on: April 05 2019

Hi everyone,Photo of the group at the Exergaming MS Olympix

Way back in 2016 MS-UK hosted a team from the School of Sport Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences from the University of Essex here at our headquarters. 

The team were running a trial testing the use of an Xbox game specifically designed to support people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Since then, they have been working hard to continue exploring possibilities in this area, and yesterday I had the privilege of being invited to the MS Olympix at the University of Essex.

The day included taking part in three different games that could be played standing up or sitting down. 

Sarah, who was first diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS in 2007, attended the event...

‘After hearing about the day at a Josephs Court social coffee morning, it sounded really interesting. It is really good fun and some of the games – especially the ones that involve lifting my feet up – really helps my balance and coordination. It’s like playing the Wii at home but more fun!’

Sarah added, ‘the system comes from a background of rehabilitation, so I’d love to see it developed so people like me, living with MS, can use it at home’.

A big thank you to the team for inviting me to join in and we will keep everyone posted on future studies in exergaming!

Best wishes,

Laura

Laura May, Communications Manager

Guest blog: 'I like to think Kev has been with me each step of the way, during good runs and bad runs'

Posted on: April 04 2019

Photo of Steph Sinha with a unicornMarathon month has arrived and to kick things off Stephanie Sinha tells us why she is taking on the mighty Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK...

My cousin, Kevin was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2006. Kev was more like an older brother to me, he was someone to look up to and get into mischief with. Being two years older he always looked out for me and I got to wear his hand-me-down clothes - luckily I wasn’t much of a girly girl!

We were all shocked by his diagnosis; his initial complaint of optic neuritis hadn’t prepared us for what was to come. As a nurse I was aware of MS but more familiar with the relapse remitting form. His deterioration in health was rapid and devastating, for Kev and for all who loved him. Despite the many challenges he faced however, he never lost his sense of humour. He was truly a funny, humble and very loveable man.

Kev passed away last year, two days after his 46th birthday. I wanted to do something meaningful to help make sense of everything Kev went through, to remember him in a positive way and to help other families affected by MS. I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to run the London Marathon in his memory and I am looking forward to raising as much money as I possibly can for MS-UK.

Fundraising

I have two young daughters so when it came to fundraising I quickly realised that any fundraising activities were most likely going to involve them. Luckily they are involved in several clubs which have provided great links for raffles and donations. 

My biggest fundraising event was a Purple Unicorn party! I had an idea to organise a children’s party and charge admission to raise money. Having organised parties for my own children on numerous occasions this felt like a safe, familiar and fun option. I contacted a party and events company, which I had used previously and had a long chat with the manager who was simply amazing! She suggested the purple unicorn theme as they already had a purple unicorn mascot (plus, who doesn’t love a purple unicorn?) she suggested using the “WeGotTickets” platform and she offered to do the party entertainment and advertising free of charge! 

We set a date over the school holidays and I was able to book a function room for a discounted price as I mentioned the event was for charity. I organised a hot dog and candy floss machine, balloons for room decoration and glitter face painting which I paid for myself. 

The WeGotTickets website was so easy to use, I decided on a ticket price of £10 per child with one adult going free per paying child. I advertised the event on Facebook and through my daughter’s school/nursery and the party company promoted it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, plus they emailed the event details to their full client list. I managed to sell 40 tickets so raised £400 from ticket sales, the money was automatically credited to my bank account a week after the event. 

In addition I organised a raffle, sold unicorn cupcakes, sweet cones and unicorn headbands. I held a guess the number of sweets in a jar competition and charged £1 donation for face painting. My final total raised was £656!

It wasn’t too difficult or time consuming to organise, I was very lucky to have such an amazing party company on board and they took a lot of the organisation and stress off my shoulders. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the party, including me!

My marathon journey 

I am not a natural marathon runner; if my husband had to describe me in one word it would be ‘clumsy’! My journey to the Virgin Money London Marathon start line has been tough at times. I like to think Kev has been with me each step of the way, during good runs and bad runs. I know that the marathon will be an emotional day and I hope there will be plenty of tissues at the finish line!

If you would like to donate to Stephanie’s cause, visit her JustGiving page.

A big thank you from us to you!

Posted on: March 25 2019

Colchester Half 2019.jpg

It was a beautiful day at the Colchester Half Marathon 2019 (24 March), the sun was shining and there was not a cloud in the sky!

MS-UK had over 60 runners pounding the streets of Colchester, including an amazing duo who both wore and ran in a tyre!

Clare Thompson and her running buddy Dave, who ran the race while carrying car tyres, really went to town on decorating their accessories in aid of MS-UK. Clare said, ‘Some years ago my wonderful sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Since then all the family have been so grateful to the work MS-UK do and we have done everything we can to help raise money for this positive and hugely supportive charity’.

It was also great to see some of our Virgin Money London Marathon runners using the event as a training session with just five weeks to go! So far #TeamPurple have raised £4,000 collectively – Go #TeamPurple!

Thank you to our 130 wonderful volunteers! These types of events just cannot happen without your commitment. You all pitched in to help and support MS-UK in any way you could. You lined the course acting as event stewards and keeping the runners safe; handed out water, bananas, medals and goody bags; directed traffic and helped people park their cars, and our volunteer photographers took some amazing shots of everyone enjoying the day. We just can’t thank you enough.

See the amazing photos from this event in our Facebook photo album today! 

MS-UK is here for anyone affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), to empower them to live healthier and happier lives by improving the understanding of MS and providing support where it is needed most.

Volunteers are paramount in our success at any event MS-UK attends. If you’ve been inspired and you would like to get involved and offer your help, please get in touch with Jenny on 01206 226500.

 

Guest blog: 'I don't know what the future holds, none of us do, but I run and keep as healthy as possible...'

Posted on: March 08 2019

Photo of Jan, MS-UK runnerIn 2017, Jan Clarke Taplin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). In this guest blog, Jan tells us about coming to terms with her diagnosis and why running has given her a new focus in life...

In January 2016 I had a very frightening experience when my eyesight in one eye deteriorated quite quickly to the extent that I wasn't able to continue my work as a dentist. Over the next year and numerous tests I was no further forward and my eye made some recovery. Following a second episode with my other eye in 2017 I had further scans and a lumbar puncture which finally led to the diagnosis of RRMS or relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.  

I started to learn about treatments, being a medic I was sure I would follow the disease modifying therapies (DMTs) or daily injections of immunosuppressants, but I was encouraged to try another approach. My own GP put me in touch with a friend of hers who had been managing his own MS through diet and exercise, Alan Caldwell. Alan was a great inspiration to me and when I first met him he had just successfully completed the Virgin Money London Marathon running for MS-UK. This was exactly what I needed to hear at this time, I was in shock with an MS diagnosis and scared for the future. As we know no one can yet predict the outcome of your MS and indeed, it affects everyone differently, so to know that Alan was doing so well following the Best Bet Diet, an exercise regime and supplements meant I was going to look at all this first.

I embarked on the Best Bet Diet which I thought would be so difficult at first, particularly cutting out all dairy and gluten but I did it and haven’t looked back. My neurology team have also been supportive of my choices which again is encouraging.

During all the uncertainty with my health and before I had received an MS diagnosis I decided to start running. I joined local Five Star Active group based in Auchterarder and puffed and panted my way through 2 minute runs!! I was a complete beginner and whilst an outdoorsy type I had never run before. I remember the elation I felt when eventually running one dark Friday night we realised we had run for 12 minutes non-stop!! 

From there I ran a 5k then a 10k. With news in December 2017 that I may be facing MS I decided to sign up for a Half Marathon as I was terrified if I didn't do it then it may never happen. So in May 2018 a month after my confirmed diagnosis I proudly completed Loch Leven Half in 2 hrs 17 minutes. 

During the rest of 2018 I tried to keep my miles up and my fitness level as I started to come to terms with having this chronic disease. I was learning (and still am) when to push my body, and when to rest, how to fuel and which foods keep me healthy. 

I had dark days and towards the end of 2018 my GP suggested I needed some counselling which I have received both privately and from MS-UK. The services MS-UK provide have been a source of great help for me so I am therefore delighted to be able to raise funds for MS-UK.

I was dubious about entering the Virgin Money London Marathon as I was concerned it may be too much for my MS but I have gone from strength to strength over the last year, I don't know what the future holds, none of us do, but I run and keep as healthy as possible and stay in the moment as much as possible. 

In January several of my running club buddies were starting their training for the London Marathon, we have nine from our club heading south for the run, and I thought if I’m going to do it, it’s now or never. I sent a message to Jenny at MS-UK to find out if there was a chance my waiting list place would come up and after a very excitable phone call, she offered me a place.

If I had a doubt about the marathon it was dispelled that day with my overwhelming excitement about it and also how delighted my friends, family and running buddies were too.

The training is so far on track, we have a wonderful coach who has put a great programme together for me. She knows about my MS and together we monitor it, she insists on two days rest after my long run and I never run consecutive days. Having other running buddies makes it easier to motivate yourself and the MS-UK runners have also been great, we interact in a Facebook group and follow each other on Strava.

I have some fundraising events planned but most of my target has been met from my initial post on Facebook sharing my story and my JustGiving page. I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I received. Many people did not know what I was going through and the messages I received when I finally told the world gave me a huge boost.

I am excited for London and delighted to be part of Team Purple, see you at the finish!!

Jan x

Would you like to take on a challenge in aid of MS-UK?

Find out all about fundraising and becoming part of #TeamPurple on our website today!

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