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The Big Purple Dog Walk... lets go walkies for MS

Posted on: February 03 2021

RGB-The-Big-Purple-Dog-Walk-Logo.pngFundraising manager Jill Purcell introduces our new challenge!

Calling all canine companions! This March, MS-UK are inviting you to join #TeamPaws and take part in our pawsome Big Purple Dog Walk. Wherever you are in the country now is the pawfect time for you and your best four-legged friend to stay active and make every walk matter to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

During MS-UK’s loneliness and isolation research, we noticed that our furry friends play a big part in the MS Community, whether that be keeping their owner's company, being the reason someone may go outside each day, or simply by just being there! That is why MS-UK has launched an exclusive virtual event... just you and your dogs!

So whether your pooch is a pampered Poodle, a delicate Dachshund or a loving Labrador all hounds are welcome to put their paws to the test and help to raise pawsome funds for MS-UK. Everyone that takes part will receive an exclusive MS-UK dog bandana to wear with pride during the challenge. When you raise your target of £100, your dog will receive their very own rosette and certificate for their achievements.

Donatello.pngTo join #TeamPaws all you need to do is

  • Set a challenge for you and your dog to complete in your community during the month of March
  • Pledge to raise £100 for MS-UK by asking your friends, family and fellow dog walkers to sponsor you
  • Grab your lead and go!

We have some examples for you below, but feel free to get creative, and remember it must be completed by the end of March!

  • A mile every day for the whole month
  • Complete a full marathon distance in one month
  • Alfie.pngA lap of the garden every day with your dog
  • Going on your dog’s favourite walk
  • Taking your dog out for the very first time

Whatever you decide to do, there are huge benefits to you and your beloved pets by getting outside for some fresh air.

Don’t have a dog but would love to take part?

Jasper.pngDoes your neighbour have a dog that could join you for The Big Purple Dog Walk? Or does a local family member have a dog that you could team up with?

What are you waiting for? Get your collars on and grab your leads… let’s go walkies for MS!

Click the button below or call 01206 226500 for more information.

Sign up!

Meet Matthew Swan, Chair of our Board of Trustees

Posted on: January 15 2021

Matthew  .jpgHello, I'm Matthew, my role within MS-UK is the Chair of the Board of Trustees which I took on during 2019.

My first introduction to MS-UK was some years back now when I attended MS-UK’s Summer Ball’s or the December Lunch held in London having received invites from friends who were long-time supporters. Although being a national charity the staff and supporters were very friendly and I could tell the organisation had a real family feel.

I have lived in Colchester, Essex for nearly 20 years with my wife and three now teenage daughters and when I was asked if I would be interested in being a trustee I was honoured. MS-UK gave me a lifetime opportunity of running in the 2013 and 2018 London Marathons and if I could help them in any way I would. I joined the board in 2017 and became Chair in 2019.

All of my girls have helped out at either the Colchester Half or Virgin Money London Marathons and they look forward to the events. They are always made so welcome as part of the team. It’s not easy getting teenage daughters to put on the t-shirts and get involved but they always do for MS-UK.

My role as Chair of the Board is to ensure all runs as smoothly as possible and we are all heading in the right direction. As you can imagine 2020 was very eventful and challenging for us all. I have to say though that my fellow board members and all the staff pulled together really well to see us through the year. Almost weekly zooms through March to June in a strange way actually brought us closer together, even though physically we were far apart. We have yet to catch up face to face for over a year but that time will come.

At the end of last year, I received what I thought was a scam email telling me I had been included in the Queens New Years Honours List. After spending a few days trying to decide if it was real or not I finally opened the attachment. To my surprise, it was real and not a virus. I was completely overwhelmed to have been recognised for my services to the charity sector and feel very lucky. Thank you to everyone congratulated me.

I, like all of us, am now looking forward to 2021. The charity is under great leadership with our CEO Amy and her team and we have a clear direction of travel. I’m Looking forward to catching up with as many of you as possible, at as many events as we can have in the coming months. Thanks for all your support it means so much and keeps the family spirit alive and well at MS-UK.

“The pressure was building. What happened if I couldn’t do it?”

Posted on: January 05 2021

Sarah Cook.jpgSarah Cook, our amazing fundraiser of the month, on her biggest challenge – running 100k in one week

I’ve always loved running for as long as I can remember. Any sporting activities at school that involved running – 100m, 200m, 800m, hurdles – I was put forward. ‘Sarah will do it.’ I remember my Dad saying ‘I think you’re better at the 200m hurdles without the hurdles!’

Over the last couple of decades, running has been my one constant. From moving out of home at 18, going to university, moving city, changing jobs, moving city again, having children, changing jobs again, starting a business, starting another business – all the usual things that happen in life.

Then the most unusual thing happened – Covid-19. I was scared, frightened, worried, and uncertain, just like everyone else. I didn't know what to do to relieve the stress and feel calmer. Then I just thought I’ll do what I always do but just a bit more – running.

So whenever I felt a little anxious I’d go running. If I felt very anxious I’d go running. I ended up running quite a bit! It can release lots of emotions and I cried a number of times while running. All good Corona therapy I decided.

Things started to get better. One day I realised I’d run 57k in a week! I was amazed. But it wasn’t difficult so I thought I’d set myself a challenge. I’d run 100k in one week.

Finding purpose

I told one of my running buddies while we were doing a run and, by the end of a muddy 10k, I’d decided there’s no point doing a challenge like this if it doesn’t have a purpose.

I needed to make sure it could actually make a significant difference to other people.

There was one clear, obvious choice. I wanted to make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). My wonderful mum has MS, and if I could do anything in the world to take it away, I would, but I can’t. But I could run. And run a lot and try to raise as much money as possible for people like my mum.

I told my mum about my challenge and asked her which MS charity she’d recommend I support. She didn’t hesitate and said MS-UK.

Sarah Cook 3.jpgChallenge set

I set a date. I cleared my diary. I bought new trainers and kit. I prepared myself for seven mornings of running and afternoons of tea and cake! I set up a JustGiving page and then crossed my fingers that a) I’d be able to do it b) people donated c) it didn’t snow and scupper my plans!

Within just 24 hours I’d received so many donations from friends and family – every time I checked, there was another donation. I was utterly gobsmacked! I’d asked my daughter what I should set as my JustGiving target, and she said £1,000! I thought, flippin’ heck, I’m never going to reach that! But I decided that’s the point of a goal, to push yourself further. It didn’t matter if I didn’t reach it, but let’s aim high anyway.

I hadn’t realised that the charity would be notified of my challenge and start receiving the money straight away. Lucy from the fundraising team rang me and we immediately had a heartfelt conversation. We had a mutual connection in our passion for helping people with MS, for making a difference and making a real impact on their lives. During our call Lucy checked the JustGiving total and it had gone up again while we’d been chatting! The feeling was incredible. I felt amazing and, each day in the run up to my challenge, I received more and more donations, so much so that we increased the target to £1,500! I felt overwhelmed by people’s kindness and generosity.

Each day my son would ask me ‘How much money do you have now Mum?’

The pressure was building. What happened if I couldn’t do it? What if I let all these people down? One of the first to donate was my lovely friend Deb. She said, ‘We’d sponsor you to sit on the sofa all week and eat cake. So doing this is amazing!’ Maybe that’s my next challenge, 100 cakes in seven days!

Day one approached. I’d calculated I needed to run 14.3k per day for seven consecutive days to equal a total of 100k. I was fairly apprehensive, but knew that once I had day one under my belt I’d be on a roll. I decided for my own sanity, and to stay connected, I would do a Facebook Live each day, during or after my run. Maybe this would budge people to donate too?

Sarah Cook 4.jpgIt worked

Well on day one I had £80 donated within minutes of my Live! This certainly made my mind up about doing a daily broadcast.

I also decided to add to my challenge and run a different route each day, to make things a little more interesting. The best runs were those I did with running buddies. One of those was Becky, who before our run I’d never met in person before. So this was even more special than I’d ever imagined.

Countryside adventure

I met Becky in Wotton-Under-Edge (proper countryside for a city girl like me). We headed out of Wotton on a beautiful winter’s day towards Kingswood, through the lanes to Alderley (past the manor house where the Sotheby’s chap lives – his children were friends with Princes William and Harry!) We then took a lane that leads to the Ozleworth Estate. We passed estate cottages where they rear turkeys for Christmas and we saw a shoot trailer transporting the beaters. (Becky gave me a countryside lesson on the lingo.) They were even dressed head to toe in tweed (extra countryside bonus points). The weather was phenomenal, the company second to none, and I added 15k to my tally.

On the very last day of my week’s challenge I was £53 off my £1,500 target and, after sharing this information on Facebook, two friends both instantly donated £53 each! Yet another gob-smacking moment to add to the growing list that week.

Throughout the whole experience I was blown away with people’s generosity and kindness. I’ll never forget their support for me and for MS-UK, especially during such a hard year and just weeks before Christmas.

Lucy and I continued to communicate throughout my challenge, with her addressing emails to me as the ‘MS-UK Champion!’ I feel incredibly honoured to be supporting this wonderful charity and to have the genuine enthusiasm and kindness from Lucy and the team.

In total, including the gift aid donations I raised nearly £2,000 for MS-UK. To say I am proud is an understatement.

This is an epic way to end a truly challenging year.

If you are considering doing a similar challenge or any type of challenge for that matter then all I can say is go for it!

If you'd like to donate, you can find Sarah's JustGiving page here

If you would like to take on a personal challenge like sarah then call lucy on 01206 226 500 or email


‘He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t moan and he doesn't give up’

Posted on: December 15 2020

Simon Gardner 2.jpg
Left to right - Simon Gardner, Nigel Gardner, Ed Gardner and Phil Gardner

In October this year, I decided to run a virtual marathon, my first one. I began training, building up and getting the miles in my legs, tentatively at first to avoid injury but building up the distances as I went. It was very hard but didn’t take long and like my dad, I (quietly) don’t give up.

My motivation… my dad. An athlete, a footballer, champion snooker and darts player, canoeist and lifelong fisherman. He received his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis when he was 27 years old, not long after I was born. He is now 66 and although the progression of the disease has been relatively gradual, it has taken away all those things. He has lost the vast majority of the mobility control in his legs amongst other things. Having lived with MS for 40 years I cannot believe how resilient and calm he is and yet open. We all keep a little back from our loved ones and I do not doubt that he does because this is his and he owns it. He shares what he wants and faces into what he doesn’t. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t moan and he doesn't give up.

I originally intended to run the Official 2020 Virtual TCS New York City Marathon solo and self-supported, however, an ambitious practice run turned into the full distance a week ahead of schedule! I was out on the trails and things were working out well so decided to push on to make sure I understood what the ‘real thing’ would be like… good job too as I learnt a lot about what my body needs when under this much pressure. I thought of my dad.

On the day, after designing my route and packing my vest with food and water, I decided to set off from my dad’s home and take a nostalgic run through the old days along roads, towns and villages I remember when growing up. The weather was shocking with heavy rain and being soft underfoot - so Garmin ‘Set', crime audiobook ‘On’ (Dad loves detective stories), head down, swing the arms and see where the legs take you!

20 miles in and to be honest I’d had enough of natural beauty, enough of my audiobook, my body was rejecting food and all the water in the world was not hydrating me. There was no reason I could be, but I was bored! So I called my wife and spoke to my kids who buoyed me up. Then called my dad who picked up just as the wind and rain returned and couldn’t hear a damn word I was saying! They say the last six miles are the worst. That said, I completed it, solo and self-supported while playing detective in the pouring rain.

My reward (medal) is still in the mail from US however the New York Road Runners app provided this augmented reality one which really lifts the spirits when you award it yourself while you pose for as good a selfie as you can get (or care about getting!). My other reward was a cold, then hot bath, a can of American Cream Soda, nine sausages with huge amounts of Dad's mash.

I was reading about MS-UK and what caught my eye, in particular, was their focus on the mental health of individuals with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. My dad, my brothers and I are all fortunate to have one another to provide all kinds of support, particularly through lockdown, but we all know there will be some serious and important decisions to make in the next few years. We will need to strike a balance between support and independence. There will also be times when we do not know what to do, or if it is the ‘right’ thing and we will need the support of MS-UK.

As for fundraising, I told my story to those at work, those I run with or who I know run. With so many charities, particularly in 2020, needing more support than ever I didn’t want to appear to pressure them but when explaining the reason for my choice and the impact the support of MS-UK will one day have, people gave what they could.

Simon has raised an incredible £737.53 for MS-UK, here is the link to his fundraising page

If you would like to take on your own challenge to raise money for MS-UK like Simon did, please contact Lucy today on 01206 226500 or

Monkey Sox have raised £11,530!

Posted on: December 15 2020

James and Lianne from Monkey Sox say thanks, and don’t forget to get your Christmas socks!

Hi everyone, and a very Merry Purple Christmas to all.

monkey2.jpgIt’s been a tough year for so many and so we wanted to share some thanks and happy news with a little update from Monkey Sox.

During the pandemic, we have been so grateful for the support of so many regular and new customers. We have remained open, selling socks online and, despite all the cancelled markets and events, we were proud to donate our target amount to multiple sclerosis (MS) charities for our second year of business.

This takes the total donation to MS charities from sales of Monkey Sox to £11,530! For those of you not aware, we donate 50% of profits equally to three MS charities, of which the fantastic MS-UK are one. 

Included in this was the sale of 64 pairs of our special #TeamPurple socks for MS-UK sports events, a design we are very proud of that matches the MS-UK kit. 

monkey3.jpgOf these, we donate £5 from every pair exclusively to MS-UK, and we absolutely love seeing your photos of the socks in action. It’s testimony to the incredible community of fundraisers at MS-UK as you have all taken part in so many personal and virtual challenges this year. Amazing efforts! We can’t wait for the group events to begin again in 2021.

We know the team at MS-UK have been working tirelessly during lockdown too, and the new services they are offering for both counselling and exercise across the country is really a big achievement. We are proud to be in touch with, and supporting, a team dedicated to making a difference to the lives of people living with MS. 

monkey4.jpgEveryone knows that socks are great gifts at Christmas, so if you would like to support them, we have many designs in both leisure and sports socks, and not forgetting little monkeys with our kids’ range!  Please go to, and as a thank you we are giving all MS-UK readers free postage on any order with code MSUKFREE until 31.12.20. 

Please keep in touch. We hope to meet many more of you in 2021, and we wish you all the very best as we enter the New Year. 

Speak to you soon!

James and Lianne  

#TeamPurple virtual Heroes!

Posted on: November 27 2020

Charlotte Donna and Mim2.jpgWe were so disappointed for all of our #TeamPurple runners when it was announced that the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 was postponed and then ultimately cancelled. However, we were blown away by the level of support from our runners, especially when the news broke that the Virgin Money London Marathon was going virtual for its 40th race.

After opening up our remaining virtual places to past runners and our runners’ friends and family, we had an amazing 100 people taking part on behalf of MS-UK!

On 04 October, they set out all around the UK and even some across the pond in Canada and the USA.

It was great to see how so many of our runners decided to make the event their own. Charlotte, Donna and Mim in Essex, decided to take on the challenge in fancy dress. They decided to run through the decades marking the start of the Virgin Money London Marathon.

They started in the 80s when the London Marathon began, before moving onto Ab Fab for loop three and were feeling magical in their Hogwarts get up as the progressed. They then ran around as various emoji’s before completing their run dressed as NHS staff to honour those who have been working around the clock over the past few months.

Alongside the creativity shown by our runners making their own finishing lines and having lined their routes with the London landmarks, some of #TeamPurple were invited to share their story on the BBC wall and on local radio stations which is truly incredible!

Of course, we cannot talk about the virtual event without sharing the experience of Jodey Hopcroft, who ended up covering a distance of 50 miles instead of the usual 26.2 miles due to a lack of signal for her tracking device. Despite the geological mishap, Jodey has stayed in good cheer and her story went viral after being interviewed by her local newspaper. Her story has since spread to various media outlets including Sky News and BBC, as well as other local and national radio stations and even made international news in India, Sweden and France to name a few. This led to a huge spike in donations to her JustGiving page – well done Jodey!

A huge thank you to all the runners and their friends and family for their continued support during this time, as a result of the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon #TeamPurple raised an additional £30,000!


Supporting the local community

Posted on: November 25 2020

Foodbank pic.jpgHi everyone,

Every year MS-UK looks for different ways we, as an organisation, can get involved and give back to our local community in Colchester, Essex.

Community is at the heart of everything we do as a charity. In the past, we have volunteered for other local charities, such as Wellies-On, a care farm that offers the therapeutic use of farming practices and we regularly collect donations for our local foodbank. Although this year the pandemic has prevented us from returning to these charities to lend a helping hand we have still created our usual Christmas collection for Colchester Foodbank.

Colchester Foodbank has been supporting people in the local area since 2008 and has increased the number of people it helps in the last year by 34%. It provides three days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and support to local people who are referred to them in crisis. It is part of a nationwide network of foodbanks, supported by The Trussell Trust, working to combat poverty and hunger across the UK.

Even more people than we could have imagined have experienced hardship this year as a result of the pandemic and the need for support is greater than ever, so if you are able, please search for you local foodbank or other charities supporting people in need in your area and give something back if you are able to. Click here to search for a foodbank near you.

Best wishes, 

Sarah-Jane Elliott

Communications Manager

Living with multiple sclerosis can sometimes leave you feeling lonely... This is Helen's story

Posted on: November 17 2020

Helen.jpgWhen I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at 23, I was so scared and lonely and in quite a dark place. It was a huge deal for me – I’d only been married for a year and was at the beginning of my career as a nurse. My parents took it very badly, and it was a big, big change for me.

Early on in my journey, I was prescribed antidepressants. They help keep me on an even keel.

Having MS, there are times when I feel very lonely. It doesn’t matter how many people I have around me, I can still feel very alone. Unless they have it too, your loved ones and friends don’t really understand what you’re going through.

Old friends worry about meeting up with me. They wonder how bad I will be – whether I’ll be able to walk or whether I’ll be in a wheelchair.

I do spend a lot of time at home alone, but my little dog helps me enormously. She’s like my shadow and my best friend. Having her, with her unconditional love, has helped me so much. Pets help so much when you’re lonely.

Knowing the MS-UK Helpline is there when I need to talk makes me feel supported.


Help stop loneliness this Christmas

This year MS-UK's Christmas appeal is raising money to support our helpline, which is here to support people living with MS when they need it most. Our research shows that 71% of people living with MS feel lonely or isolated because of their condition. By working together with MS-UK, you can help these people feel less alone this Christmas. 

Make a donation


Stop loneliness this Christmas

Posted on: November 13 2020

Did you know that 71% of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS) feel lonely or isolated because of their condition? By working together with MS-UK, you can help these people feel less alone this Christmas.

MS affects around 130,000 people in the UK and 2.3 million people worldwide. Living with a long-term condition that people do not understand can make it hard to stay connected. It can be difficult to maintain independence and often people struggle to reach out and ask for the support they need as a result. This is why services like the MS-UK Helpline are so essential. But it wouldn’t exist without people like you.

MS-UK saw a 44% increase in calls to our helpline in the first month of lockdown alone and we continue to provide the MS community with essential information and emotional support when they need it most. As the Christmas period approaches, demand will be even higher and we need your support to ensure we can be here for as many people affected by MS as possible.

Our research has revealed that people with MS are often too scared to speak out about loneliness for fear of being viewed as a burden. People tell us they feel like a “viewer of the world, not a part of it,” and have “no one to share, communicate and laugh with, turn to, speak to and share worries with.” But with your continued help, MS-UK can be there for anyone who calls our Helpline to listen and provide them with much-needed emotional support.

This Christmas, by donating to the MS-UK Helpline you’ll help ensure no one has to face MS alone.

Donate to help stop loneliness



Why I set off on a 1,000-mile bike ride from Yorkshire to Vienna

Posted on: October 15 2020

Jo Goodall 6.JPGJo Goodall, MS-UK’s fundraiser of the month reveals why she set herself the challenge of a lifetime

Monday 10 August 2020 will forever be a memorable day for me, as that was the day I set off on a 1,000-mile bike ride from Yorkshire to Vienna, on my own.

You might be wondering, quite rightly, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” And when I reflect on my achievement, I do sometimes wonder what possessed me to pack up my bike and set off on a solo journey across a continent, which took me from the UK over to the Netherlands, through Germany and into Austria. 

The 18-day trip saw me cycle, on average, 70 miles a day through some of the most amazing scenery, tracking alongside the Rivers Rhine and Danube.

I undertook this challenge and adventure for a number of reasons. Firstly, I actually had another cycling trip planned and booked for the summer, however because of the Coronavirus pandemic that had to be cancelled. Instead of just accepting that, sitting back, and doing nothing, as soon as the European borders started to open and the situation had calmed down slightly, I set about planning this trip.

Ever since October 2019, I had wanted to visit Vienna, as it was in that city that Eliud Kipchoge, arguably the greatest marathon runner of all time, completed a sub-two-hour marathon. As a marathon runner myself, I can really relate to just how ridiculously quick that is and how incredible that achievement was. I remember watching him sprinting to the finish line and shedding a tear as Kipchoge achieved a sports milestone given almost mythical status in the running world, breaking through a temporal barrier that many would have deemed untouchable only a few years ago.

Instead of flying to Vienna, I decided my own challenge would be to cycle to the very spot that Kipchoge completed his incredible achievement.

Along the way, I kept a daily blog, mostly to keep my parents informed as to where I was and what had happened that day. The blog, however, picked up some momentum, and soon it was clear that it was more than just Mum and Dad who were reading and enjoying it.

I received an overwhelming amount of support, kind and motivating words from so many people that I knew this journey and adventure wasn’t just for me. I knew I could achieve so much more by harnessing the power of this small community I had inadvertently Jo Goodall 5.JPGcreated. On my penultimate day of riding, I set up my JustGiving page for MS-UK and within a few days raised £1,000. That total now sits at around £1,700, which I am so proud of.

MS-UK is a charity that is very close to my heart. I first got involved with the charity in 2014 when I ran The London Marathon. A very special lady, Mrs B, who has sadly passed away now, lived with multiple sclerosis so I know how devastating the illness can be. She has a very special place in my heart and she doesn’t know it, but I was riding my bike for all those people, like her, who are not able to.

Here is the link to my website which has my full, day by day blog of the trip. I hope you enjoy reading it – please leave a comment if you do!

If you’ve been inspired by Jo’s fundraising adventure, visit