My name is John Williams and I’ve been asked to write a blog because of the way I’m trying to raise a little money for MS-UK. I’ve never done anything like this before so I’ll apologise in advance if I waffle on too much.
First, a little about me.
I’m a lifelong strength athlete who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the summer of 2018.
I’ve trained for and competed in strength sports for most of my life - 45 years this year (I’m 55 at the moment). My first Olympic Lifting (the type of weightlifting they have at the Olympics) competition was in November 1974 and I went on to be a National Champion by the age of 16.
At the end of 1979 I competed in my first powerlifting competition, which is much more reliant on brute strength. Powerlifting is the squat, bench press and deadlift. A change is as good as rest so I had a go - the next Olympics in 1984 seemed so far away. I had every intention of going back to weightlifting.
I went on to be a multi British, European and World Champion across four weight classes and broke several World Records in the World Drug Free Powerlifting Federation. My last World title was in Russia in 2003, after which my body needed a rest but my need for endorphins runs deep so I switched back to weightlifting instead.
In 2004 I was British Masters (over 40) champion. I followed this up with a third place at the Welsh Open and first in the Welsh Masters. The next few years saw a number of operations, some of which were to repair the damage caused by years of long heavy training sessions and one or two to upgrade internal fixation I’d had put in years before following a motorcycle accident.
I’ve always been the sort of person who loves a challenge, even more so if someone has told me I wouldn’t be able to do it, so in 2009 I started the long road to the 2013 Masters Games. However, it was not to be and in 2012 I completely ruptured my right biceps at the shoulder and either ruptured or partially ruptured all four parts of my right rotator cuff (muscles in the shoulder). As far as recovery was concerned it was by far the most difficult injury/operation I’d had.
By the summer of 2014 I was back on the powerlifting platform representing Wales in the Four Nations Championships. My first competitive outing in a long time and I managed to break three British Masters Records, one of which had stood since 2000. During this time I even entered a strongman contest, a bucket list thing. I knew I had no chance of winning, the next oldest person was just over half my age but I managed to place top 3 in one event and actually won another. I was pleased I didn’t actually come last overall.
It was at this time that I began to notice it was taking longer to recover from workouts and my muscles ached far more than they should have. At first I put this down to 40 odd years of heavy training. I was still competing once, maybe twice a year and broke all the Welsh Masters Records in two weight classes and as I write I hold several open records across two weight classes as well.
My ability to train hard and recover was slowly but surely decreasing and by the beginning of 2018 I seemed to be constantly sore and was sustaining one injury after another – time for a visit to the doctors and a string of visits to the hospital.
Once I got my diagnosis of multiple sclerosis it was a bit of a relief to be honest. It could have been something far worse and at least I could still go to the gym, albeit training very differently.
I’ve always tried to put something back into the sport I’ve enjoyed for so many years, promoting contests, refereeing, coaching and I currently edit the website for the Welsh Strength Association so once I’d settled into a training routine my thoughts turned to trying to use what I could do to raise a little money for MS and the only thing I could think of was lifting weights.
So, that brings us to what I’m doing. Phase one of my goal is to total 600kg over the three lifts (powerlifting) and to set Welsh Masters Records in each lift at the Welsh Cup on 03 March 2019. At the time of writing this I’m on course to it but as you can imagine it will depend on having enough good days to make progress, I am incredibly stubborn and driven though!
I picked MS UK because it offers support and is hands on in its approach to helping - you can see where the money goes!
I’ve opened a donation page for MS-UK on Facebook.
Phase two of my goal will be more difficult – my plan is to return once again to Olympic lifting and compete in the Welsh Masters in November 2019 and hopefully raise a little more money.
If you’ve been inspired by John get in touch with Lucy to order your fundraising welcome pack today! Just email Lucy or call on 01206 226500.
If you feel ready to get going you can set up a Facebook fundraiser today!
There’s nothing quite like the festival atmosphere of the Virgin Money London Marathon. Runners train for months on end, put themselves through gruelling regimes that test the limits of their bodies, all to make their mark on one of the world’s most iconic races. Every year people come in their droves to show their support to these brave marathon men and women, among them our own #TeamPurple cheer squad who call and clap and holler our runners towards the finish line!
On Sunday 28 April 2019, the Virgin Money London Marathon enters its 39th year with news of a very special milestone. When the event rolls around, £1 billion (that’s nine whole zeroes!) will have been raised for good causes since the first event in 1981!
To celebrate, the Virgin Money London Marathon are launching the #ThanksaBillion campaign to recognise the achievements of everyone who has raised funds for charity.
Hugh Brasher, Event Director of the Virgin Money London Marathon, said: ‘The London Marathon has set a world record for fundraising for an annual one day event every year for the past 12 years, with an incredible £63.7 million raised from the 2018 event. That brought the total raised since 1981 to more than £955 million and on Sunday 28 April 2019, in the 39th London Marathon, we will break the £1,000,000,000 mark.
‘This is a phenomenal achievement and part of what makes the London Marathon unique. No other mass participation event comes anywhere near this kind of fundraising. We would like to thank every runner, supporter, donor, charity, volunteer, sponsor, spectator, our staff and everyone else who has contributed to this wonderful total.’
Want to be join the Virgin Money London Marathon party? Become part of our #TeamPurple volunteer family by contacting our fundraising team.
A street collection is a charity collection on a high street or shopping area. Collections are usually made using buckets. Learn how to stage your own street collection with this handy guide from seasoned pros Aled and Enlli!
In order to be able to organise a street collection you must first make an application to your local council.
You should look to make an application a month before the date you are hoping to do the collection.
Popular areas and dates (such as Christmas) may require an application to be completed further in advance.
The application form should be available on the council's website.
The application form for most councils will be in PDF or word document format which you will need to save before filling in. Make sure you have the most recent version of Adobe. The forms are usually straightforward, requiring information about yourself and the charity.
Most councils also require a letter of authenticity (LOA) to be submitted alongside the application. This proves to the council that you are raising money for charity. You can get a LOA from your charity of choice. If you are planning a street collection for MS-UK, you can get in touch with the MS-UK Fundraising Team using our online form.
Be early - You may not be the only street collector on the day. By arriving early you can make sure you can stand in the prime location and catch the early shoppers who can also be the most generous.
Grab a great spot - It is very important to make sure you stand in a good location. Ideally you want to be placed in a busy place near popular shops.
Take a break - Street collecting can be very tiring both physically and mentally. Take breaks and make sure you drink enough water.
Try fancy dress - Dressing up really helps. It can often draw people's attention and often brings a smile to young children. I (Aled) often wear my giraffe onesie or something festive. Before Christmas we organised a street collection in St Albans and we certainly drew attention to ourselves dressed up as elves!
Be active - There is nothing worse than a disinterested collector! We never standing still when collecting. It keeps us warm and people always seem more likely to donate to those who look like they want to be there.
Grab some stickers! - Having stickers with you can be very useful. Children really enjoy getting something in return. At our Christmas collection we gave out festive stickers to children and their parents often reached for a few extra pennies!
People may ask what your charity does. If you're raising money for MS-UK, make sure you are aware of the amazing work they do!
Tell your chosen charity before you start collecting. You should always email the charity before making an application for a street collection as a charity can only make one application in an area per year.
Set up a Facebook page. If you are successful with an application, post about it on the Facebook page so others who live nearby can join in.
Don't shake the bucket! You are not allowed to shake your bucket when conducting a street collection.
Organising a street collection in central London tends to be very difficult. They need to be organised a long time in advance and usually by the charity itself.
If you would like to collect outside a supermarket or shopping centre you may require extra permission from the manager in additional to the council license.
From Aled and Enlli
Fancy hosting a street collection for MS-UK? Get in touch with our fundraising team today!
I came out of a meeting in mid-January and had a text message from my good friend and Tysabri buddy’s husband, Alister... ‘Are you up for this?’ he said, sending a link to the Race to the King event, a 53 mile trail ultra-marathon.
I’d been running for about 8 months and had a few 10k and a half marathon runs under my belt, including the Brighton Marathon. I thought about it, albeit briefly, and replied ‘You know what? Yes! This sounds fun, happy to do it in a day too’. There was an option to do it over two days, but that was far too sensible…
And then I kind of forgot about it. I ramped up my training for Brighton and managed it in 4hr 30m. It was tougher than I’d hoped but I didn’t stick to my race plan and went too fast too soon. Alister assured me that a marathon was far harder than anything else I’d do… I was doubtful.
I signed up for a walking event, which the organiser agreed I could run if I was fully self-sufficient. So I ran 45km of trails on my 32nd birthday. Running offroad was a real eye opener. It took far longer than I expected but was really enjoyable and, as the only runner in a walking event, I won!
Alister was following a 12-week training program, but I was struggling. With a full time job, three dogs, multiple sclerosis (MS) and awful time management skills, I wasn’t getting the miles in. Seven weeks before the ultra, Alister and I hadn’t even run together – how were we going to manage 53 miles in each other’s company? I was starting to worry. As if he read my mind, Alister invited me to join him on a 13.1 training run around town. It went well but there was work to do. Not long after that, I managed to start using the program. It meant some early mornings and late nights, but soon I was racking up 25-40 miles per week, and Alister and I were running every Sunday together, exploring the South Downs between Chichester and Eastbourne.
At this point we discussed fundraising. We should raise some money, but who for? I volunteered that I would like to raise money for MS-UK, and Alister could join me or choose another charity if he wanted to. I explained that the MS-UK website and chat rooms had been beneficial for me post diagnosis, and I’d like to support them. He was keen to join me, and the race begun!
Both of us are fortunate to have very supportive families, friendship groups and colleagues, and our JustGiving pages started seeing a lot of visitors. Whilst my close colleagues are aware that I have MS, it’s not common knowledge, and as I’m field based, I often don’t see people for months. Whilst my email was nonspecific, my JustGiving page was honest and held nothing back, which felt liberating. The email went to the entire business, and I let out a deep breath. Within minutes my inbox was full of kind, generous and supportive messages, some from people I knew reasonably well, and others who I’d only met once. It felt amazing.
Alister and I went on to raise around £1,700 each and proudly wore our MS-UK running vests as we took on the ultra-marathon on 23 June 2018. We set off from Slindon at 8.15am and ran (yes, we were still running) across the finish line in Winchester at just gone 10.30pm. It was an amazing experience and I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Our time was a little slower than hoped, but we had a headtorch malfunction, and both agreed we need to coordinate our toilet stops better in future. And yes, there is a ‘future’, Alister and I have only managed a few Parkruns together since but will be tackling at least one ultra-marathon in 2019 and aspire to complete a 100 mile ultra at some point.
I absolutely loved the mini mudder, it was great. I loved doing this for the charity MS-UK, because my Grandpa has MS, and it was FUN! On the day I was very nervous. I saw the adults doing it. We went to the course and I got ready.
I was running as fast as I could. The first challenge was to get through the rope. We had to squeeze! We had the tunnels they were very slippery. Next we had the monkey swing, it was like the monkey bars, but our hands slipped. That was the hardest! Then we had to run really fast up a thing like a hill. We had the running and jumping in the MUD! I swam in it. That was the most fun challenge.
SUDDENLY I saw there was another challenge! I was so tired. We had to climb under the rope. We had to do the leopard crawl.
I DID TEN LAPS OF THE COURSE!
I felt good for raising lots of money and I enjoyed telling people about MS-UK.
Mini Mudder is a 1 mile obstacle course mud run designed specifically for adventure-seeking kids. The course gives kids the chance to work as a team, get muddy, and experience the thrill of adventure. Rocco did this amazing challenge and raised over £100 in aid of MS-UK - every penny helps us to support even more people affected by mutliple sclerosis, so thank you Rocco!
With both of us having parents who are sufferers of multiple sclerosis (MS), we both believed it would be important to try and raise money to help them as best we can. At first, we looked at participating in a triathlon, but on second thought believed we should do something more extravagant, and so turned to the idea of a skydive. We knew this would put us both outside our comfort zones and looked forward to the challenge. We collected donations for around three months prior to the jump, both setting a target of £500, with an overall goal of £1,000.
As you can imagine, at first both of us made a lot of money but after a while the donations began to dry up. Therefore, we took to advertising our JustGiving page on social media, sending it to friends and family. We also asked around our schools for donations, which contributed significantly. Our jump took place on 03 November at Hinton Skydiving Centre in Brackley.
Family and friends came along to support which was a big confidence boost due to a high level of nerves. We had our briefing, met our tandem jumpers, and set off on the fifteen-minute journey up to 13,000 ft. The journey up was the worst part because it came into perspective just how high we were jumping from. On the way up, we took in the view of Silverstone racetrack and had one final briefing before the long fall back to ground. Alex jumped first, and Dan went second.
Both of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience and both genuinely believed it was the best of our lives. The feeling of falling is very hard to explain, but it's an amazing sensation like no other that fills you with high levels of adrenaline and excitement. We would thoroughly recommend a skydive to anyone thinking about doing one, the experience is so unique, and you will not regret it.
Overall, we are delighted to say to that both met out targets and ended with a total of £1,497. Once again, we would like to thank MS-UK for their unconditional support and we hope our money goes to a good cause.
Dan Wood and Alex Greene
My name is Laura and I am delighted to have been given a spot in the London Marathon in aid of MS-UK. I decided to run for MS-UK to raise awareness and funds for all those that are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), including myself.
Since being diagnosed earlier this year, it has really motivated me to challenge myself and I thought that the London Marathon was the perfect way to do this. I must admit, the thought of raising a minimum of £2,000 was very daunting at first however with the help of my family and friends, I was able to come up with some great ideas in order to raise as much money for the charity as possible.
Even though I still have plenty of time before the marathon, I am the type of person who cannot relax until I am meeting targets or seeing results so I wanted to begin my fundraising as soon as possible so that I had less pressure on myself close to the run and so that I had enough time to enjoy every minute of raising money and also training.
I have recently hosted a coffee morning at my house which initially I thought would hopefully raise about £300. I got together with my family and friends who all pulled together to create a raffle, lucky dip, a treasure hunt and not forgetting the most important part...making cakes!
I managed to create some leaflets which I posted through neighbors doors and spread the word to as many people as possible.
When the day came, I was astonished with the amount of people who attended to support me and help me raise donations. It was a very enjoyable and successful day which left me feeling very humbled by everyones generosity.
I managed to raise an amazing £1,200 with donations still flooding in even after the event!
It has left me feeling very excited to come up with even more fundraising ideas and I am so pleased that I have been able to raise that amount of money just a few months after I was given my sport with the MS-UK team.
You can find out more about fundraising in aid of MS-UK by getting in touch with our team today using our online form!
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 19 years ago and would love to have been able to stay as I was then. But as is the nature of the beast it progresses and my walking has deteriorated. But I don’t let that stop me as I have 2 work from home businesses with Forever Living Products and Tessellate CBD oil which keeps me busy. Also 2 sons in the late teens, early 20’s!
I have great friends that I love to socialise with and a great network of MS friends that are my MS family. We socialise quite a bit with breakfasts, afternoon teas, dinners out – life is for living and although I’m not as mobile as I used to be I still like to get out with my friends.
My husband and I like to holiday and for the last two years we have been back to the same accessible villa in Hisaronu, Turkey. We have seen The Glamour Girls perform twice now whilst we’ve been there. After seeing them this year we chatted about asking them if they’d do something for us in the UK. They spend their winter months back here in the UK touring but didn’t have much availability left. We then needed to find a suitable venue, which was harder than we thought. But when we went to view Colchester United’s large function room we agreed it would be perfect, big but perfect. So then we got to work.
I love having something I can get my teeth into. This is by far and away the biggest fundraiser I have ever organised. The maximum this room holds is 300 and I would love to be able to fill it, we’re almost half way so far! The more people in there buying raffle tickets the more money we make for charity and this is what excites me more. I’ve designed the tickets and posters using photos the glamour girls sent me and have been busy leaving posters with lots of businesses in our local town to display on their staff noticeboards. Some of my friends have also done the same. I’ve advertised it lots on Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor and even contacted the local paper. I’ve also written to lots of businesses to see if they could donate a raffle prize for us. So there’s lots to do and I won’t rest until the night..! Actually I probably won’t rest then!
It’ll be a great night, a feast for the eyes. With great costumes and songs, just a fun evening of entertainment for guys and girls.
To find out more about the event happening in Colchester, call Sharon on 0778 2240034!
We're here to help! Just email Lucy or call us on 01206 226500.
GFM ClearComms is getting into the festive spirit this year by launching a ‘12 Days Till Christmas’ charity campaign, whereby every day from 13 December up until Christmas Day we will be holding a charitable event in aid of a different UK based charity.
To kick start this campaign the company has decided that rather than sending out Christmas cards, as they always have done in the past, this year they will be sending out ecards and then donating the money saved from not sending out actual cards to the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance.
Bringing the campaign to an astounding conclusion on Christmas day, Justin Stone, Contact Centre Manager at GFM ClearComms, will be walking a staggering 55 miles from Colchester to London to fundraise for mental health charity Mind. The other charities that were chosen by members of staff to receive donations include MS-UK!
“We are proud to provide a variety of UK charities with our contact centre, marketing and fulfilment services; however, our interest in the charities we support goes beyond just working with them and we have and will continue to hold events like this to help these great causes. Everyone at the company is really excited for this campaign to start and looking forward to 12 days of fun activities and festive fundraising leading up to Christmas,” says Rachael Willis, CFO at GFM.
To find out exactly what the company will be doing each day of our ’12 Days Till Christmas’ charity campaign check out our website and social media channels where we will be revealing the full details of each event daily in an advent calendar style fashion!
Congratulations to all the businesses across Essex who celebrated their fundraising success at our 925 Challenge awards night on 22 November! Thanks to their hard work and dedication, they managed to raise an astounding £16,700 for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS)!
Back in September, MS-UK officially launched our first ever 925 Challenge. Nine teams of local companies were handed countdown clocks and tasked with raising £925 before the timer ticked down to the end of 9 weeks, 2 days, and 5 hours.
The challengers - comprised of teams from NatWest, Charles Derby Financial Services, Team Pivotal, Ellisons Solicitors, OPM Response, Whitehall Electrical, White Hart, Push Energy and Direct Solutions - fought to be the first to reach the fundraising target by bringing the workplace together and getting creative.
As each team grappled to get the upper hand, the fundraising events became more and more innovative. We saw a 'dawn to dusk' golf day, a Swimathon, video game characters tackling an obstacle course, a car wash, a race night, and so much more!
The ideas were so good that once the clocks stopped we struggled to pick our final award winners!
After some tough deliberation we came to our decisions. The awards for ‘most money raised’ and the ‘team spirit award’ were scooped by the White Hart pub in West Bergholt who raised an incredible £6,000 by involving the community in their fundraising efforts.
Other awards went to Ellisons Solicitors for their quirky ‘Wacky Hat Wednesday’ event, OPM Response for their outstandingly fun fundraising films, and Direct Solutions for their innovative ‘Display for MS-UK’ initiative. As well as great team work, MS-UK recognised some individuals who went above and beyond during the challenge including 6 year old Shara Stevens who individually raised £300 and swam over a mile during local business networking group Team Pivotal’s Swimathon.
Collectively teams in our first corporate challenge raised a wonderful £16,700, which smashed our target of £10,000. We are delighted with the energy and enthusiasm all teams have shown for the challenge bringing colleagues, clients and customers together to raise both awareness and much needed funds for MS-UK.