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Guest blog: 'I feel extremely lucky and proud to be able to run the London Marathon for my aunt...'

Posted on: April 23 2019

Image of Kate, MS-UK runner, with quoteThis Sunday Kate Mitchell will be taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon - that's 26.2 miles of running - and every step of the way she'll be inspired by her Aunt, Karen. Read why she's taking on this challenge in this guest blog...

'I was inspired to run for MS-UK by my Aunt Karen who was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) in 2012. Despite how much of a change her diagnosis has brought to her life and the daily challenges it now presents to her, I find myself in awe with how she hasn’t let it hold her back. I was drawn to MS-UK in particular due to the great services they offer to those affected, such as the helpline, counselling service and wellness centre facility. Services like these were so valuable and essential to helping my aunt, so raising money to ensure they are provided to others who need them means a lot.

'The main challenge I faced when I found out I had a charity place last June was that I had never run before and it didn’t come very naturally to me. My main support came through joining a local running group, which has really helped me through the winter training runs and longer runs recently.

Image of raffle prize'To fundraise for MS-UK I utilised my job as a Makeup Artist in order to hold a luxury beauty raffle. I was very lucky to be gifted items after asking various colleagues for contributions to the prizes. I managed to gather together enough items for three large prizes and decided to sell tickets for £5 each. I posted about the raffle on social media, as well as my local running group’s Facebook page. I sold 109 tickets and raised a total of £545. After the success and popularity of the first raffle I’m looking to hold a second one!

'Make sure to put yourself out there, whether it be on social media or in your work place. I’ve posted regular updates of my training onto Facebook and Instagram to let people know about my progression and to let them know about why I’m running for MS-UK. Also not being afraid to reach out to local businesses or friends to see if they would be willing to donate items as prizes, if you decide to do a raffle. I was really overwhelmed by people’s generosity, so it’s always worth asking!

'I feel extremely lucky and proud to be able to run the London Marathon for my aunt and to be able to raise money for MS-UK. I’ve recently completed my longest training run (20 miles), which I never could have imagined myself doing! Knowing I’m running for such a great cause has really helped to motivate and keep me going with my training, and although I’m nervous, I can’t wait for start-line of the marathon!'

Visit Kate's JustGiving fundraising page

Stem cells a-go-go

Posted on: April 23 2019

Earlier this week, Scott McCormick had his stem cells harvested for HSCT treatment at Hammersmith Hospital

Eros my mate.jpg

Meet Eros! That’s the big old chunky machine next to me, a centrifuge in essence, which will be taking my blood and spinning it. As the image below shows, the heavy red blood cells, will separate and settle at the very bottom and just above is an amber, orangey band; these are the magical stem cells, which will be decanted off for use later. The top and majority is the plasma, the main carrier of the bloods components. Fascinating stuff.

Diagram of what Eros for in the centrifuge.jpg

This morning, when my blood results came back from the lab, they informed me that my stem cell count was very good at 3.13 million. I went to sleep in the room as they harvested the cells. Yay, a few ZZZZs!

Due to my count being a good one, my bones have let me know they have been working hard by aching quite a bit.

Eros was a good fella and did his job so very well. I found out that there are only three of these amazing machines at Hammersmith Hospital and cancer patients get higher priority, so that’s why there is a systemic bottle neck for HSCT treatment for MS patients. Seeing and hearing this really did make me aware of how lucky I am to have made it past the selection board.

And here they are. Have a look at that bag of freaking magic! Three million plus stem cells hot off the press, well my arm.

They have been confirmed as good to go and cryogenically frozen until my call back in a few weeks’ time.

To find out more about how this part of the treatment went and how Scott is feeling now, view his latest vlog here.

Me just told they have all the stem cells in the bag to my right.jpg

 

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

Posted on: April 23 2019

Photo of Sue Bennett with a marathon medalAs 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

Guest blog: Rebecca braves the head shave and says 'now I wear the shorn look with pride'

Posted on: April 15 2019

In this guest blog Rebecca Hathaway tells us why she'll be running the Virgin Money London Marathon this month, and how by braving the head shave she's smashed through her fundraising goal in memory of her father...Photo of Rebecca Hathaway with her head shaved

This isn’t my first rodeo in the foray of fundraising so I wasn’t too worried about meeting my target, however I live on a different continent to a lot of my family, friends and support network. I didn’t want to just ask for straight up donations and therefore wanted to come up with something fun and inventive to do which didn’t involve people having to be present to raise money.

This year is a big bucket list year for me (hence signing up for my first marathon!), and whilst discussing said list’s items over lunch with the guys at work (I work for the Fire Department) I mentioned that I would shave my head for the right cause. The guys like any good brothers laughed and said they would pay good money to see that!! Sooo, I took them to their word.

This seemed like that perfect cause I’d been looking for, I’d made my decision. I set a target of half my fundraising goal, having two pub quiz nights planned in a couple of months, and set out on social media and by email to state my ‘hair brained’ plan; stating that the quicker I reached my goal the quicker it all comes off. I also said that the highest single donor would get to do the shaving!

I thought it might take around 3 weeks. Well within 10 days I had exceeded my target and it was still rising. It was going to happen quick. I decided the best spot for it to take place was at the fire station. I contacted the local newspaper to see if they were interested in coming to witness and take some photos, which they did. The winning donation came from one of my fellow volunteer Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue crewmates (the Canadian version of RNLI). I had a little wobble on the day thinking “what the heck am I doing?!” but once I sat in that chair and the clippers started buzzing it felt right. The newspaper article was great and I actually smashed my complete fundraising goal and raised over £3,000!

Multiple sclerosis (MS) has affected my family personally. My father was diagnosed with MS around 35 years ago. Back then there was very little support, information or treatments available. He and my mum were handed a trifold pamphlet and told ‘good luck’. Things have changed immensely now with the support offered by organisations such as MS-UK. The knowledge about MS, its effects, the research and treatments have improved greatly in recent years. The difference it makes to those diagnosed and their families now is what drove me to raise funds for this important cause. My father passed away a few years ago, but I know he would be proud of what I am doing.

Shaving your head is a big deal. Most of us hold a lot of our identity in our hair. I thought I would have a moment after the fact where I would look in the mirror and have a bit of a cry. I can happily state though that it hasn’t happened. I look in the mirror and feel satisfaction. It is weird, I can’t stop rubbing my hand over the fuzz I have now or trying to habitually ‘tuck’ my non-existent hair behind my ears. I was a hair twiddler so it’s not surprising; And I chuckle to myself when my hair causes a ‘Velcro’ effect with my clothes, or the couch, or my pillow, or my hats… lol. It’s surprising how much your hair keeps you warm, so I’ve got a lot of woolly hats (called toques in Canada). It’s hard to temperature regulate without the hair, so the hats come off and on, off and on. It took me a good week or so to feel confident being in public and whipping off that hat. But now I wear the shorn look with pride.

Top tips for other fundraisers...

  • If you are going to use your place of work in your public promotions (newspaper article etc.) make sure you get permission. Some companies or business can’t or don’t like to be affiliated with specific charities
  • Make your fundraising easy, don’t over complicate it for yourself. For example if someone else can cater; can make/provide/sell items; can take some of the organising for you, let or ask them. Use your support team, the fundraising venue to help organise, or businesses to make up packages. Any perceived lost funds will be made up in the long run if you are not stressed and are having fun!

Visit Rebecca's JustGiving web page to see her amazing fundraising total!

Running for me and MS-UK

Posted on: April 12 2019

Shelley Silas.jpgShelley Silas is not a runner, well that was until she realised that maybe she is…

For years I’ve told everyone never to run because it’s bad for you. I’ve encountered many runners with strapped knees and brightly coloured tape, ankle supports and sore hips all bemoaning the fact that running did this to them as if they were not in charge of their bodies. But I had no interest in running so never paid much attention.

Exactly three years ago today on March 30th, 2016 I went for a run around my local park. Bored with the gym and not wanting to be inside on a glorious spring day, my wife suggested I go for a run. Yeah, why not. I had trainers, a quick couple of laps and I’d be home. I was 56. I ran about 2 metres and stopped. I couldn’t do it. I was out of breath, my legs wouldn’t work, it was absolute torture. I couldn’t understand it. I was fit, I thought I was fit. Didn’t gym and yoga and Pilates and swimming all make me super fit?  Er...no. Toned, well-stretched, with good balance, but as far as my cardio went, I was totally rubbish. I couldn’t even blame my dire attempt on my mild asthma. I stomped home filled with despair.

I don’t like not being able to do something, it’s not in my character. Facebook came to the rescue with loads of recommendations to do the NHS couch to 5k. The walk-run method has worked for thousands and it worked for me. In 9 weeks I could run 5k without stopping. I remember my first 5k race, I was overjoyed yet I couldn’t imagine running any further distance, a 10k was unimaginable. But 5k wasn't enough. I wanted more.  And so it progressed. My first 10k was on Clapham Common, I was ecstatic. That year I also slipped in two triathlons. I’m still not sure how I managed to finish them. A 10-miler around Richmond Park followed, and then a half in 2018 and I loved it. The spirit of the crowd, the other runners, the super speedy and the slower among us, running for ourselves and often for charity.  A 31k ultra-marathon came next in July 2018 but I wasn’t prepared and I walked a lot of it, trail running was new to me. But this was a test to see how body and mind responded. I couldn’t walk down stairs for 4 days but my mind was okay. Then I ran a dreadful 15 miler because yet again, I wasn’t prepared, I didn’t do the work and my legs knew it. Two friends helped me cross the finish line. I knew I had to be prepared next time. Looking back, I really enjoyed running and walking in the Chilterns, often alone as others were ahead and behind, time to think about everything, getting lost and then getting found. Prior to that I didn’t even know what an ultra-marathon was. It’s anything over 26.2 miles!

Some people said, what about a marathon? To which I laughed in their faces. Don’t be ridiculous, I’m never running a marathon, I have never wanted to, I have no interest in it and most important of all, I do not want to get injured.

This weekend, on Sunday April 14th, I am running the Paris marathon (because I didn’t get into London, not because I am fancy!).  As I said, this is something I never dreamed of, it wasn’t on a bucket list, I didn’t watch Mo and Paula and Eliud and Mary and think, I want to do that, I want to be them. I still don’t want to be them, which is just as well because it’s never going to happen. Now I watch them in awe, the speed, the focus, the determination, the keeping on going. They are remarkable. Keeping on going is hard. But I have kept on going. I’ve been training since November 21st, four runs a week, comprising of a longer run each week and three shorter. I’ve completed all but one run due to being unwell. And I've had help.

A runner (he’s run more than 60 marathons and ultras and super-ultra 100-milers) called Michael has been with me all the way. He sorted my training schedule and has run three of the longer runs with me at my pace and has always mapped the route. He texts me weekly to find out how my legs are and how I am. I couldn’t do this without his guidance and belief – because right now, I am absolutely terrified that I won’t be able to complete it, or feel faint, or get heat stroke, or fall into the Seine, or trip over the many cobblestones, or hurt so badly I’ll have to be stretchered out, or spend all my time in the portaloos. Yes, I am scared because it has been hard, getting lost, running up hills without Kate Bush’s help and scrambling down them, fitting in training with work and life and my magnificent, supportive wife (I did remind her that this is all her fault), and my 90 year old mum and the cold and hot and fuelling properly and falling over and bouncing back and hurting and the good runs, so many good runs when it all comes together – but mostly, it’s been hard. But the satisfaction of having run outweighs everything else.

I’m running as a 60th birthday present to myself but also to raise funds for a charity, as I have been doing since I started running. This year that charity is MS-UK.

MS-UK does the most vital work, with people having to cope with multiple sclerosis (MS) on a day-to-day basis. Unlike other MS charities, MS-UK does not receive government funding or money from pharmaceutical companies, it is there to provide direct care for people having to adapt their lives to MS. My friend Jim, who is in the later stages of MS, suggested MS-UK. It's smaller than the well-known charities, but small is as vital and significant and needs our help too.

I’ve reached my target but more donations are always welcome. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of family and friends and total strangers, especially when times are hard and the world is in chaos. I will run my best, not my fastest, I will take care while taking in the sights and smells of Paris, and I will carry every good wish lightly on my back. And I will acknowledge my immense privilege and good fortune. And I will wear my t-shirt and medal when you next see me.

For more information about MS-UK – www.ms-uk.org

If you’d like to donate to my Just Giving Page – here it is www.justgiving.com/fundraising/shelley-silas5

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.

Guest blog: “My Dad made me fall in love with the mountains, hiking and skiing”

Posted on: March 28 2019

Jodie Jeffery blog pic 2_2.jpgHi, I'm Jodie Jeffery and I'm taking part in a race or event every month throughout 2019 to raise money for MS-UK! So far in 2019 I have taken part in Ninesprings by Night (a 5k multi-terrain night race), Hyde Park 10k and the Bath Half Marathon!

My Dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) about 15 years ago and he has gradually become less and less able to take part in activities with my sister and I. My Dad made me fall in love with the mountains, hiking and skiing, and it breaks my heart telling him about my trips and showing him photos because I know he misses it so much.

My Uncle actually took part in nine triathlons in the summer of 2018 to raise money for MS-UK, so I decided to push myself and raise money for this charity too, having heard how much good they do.

So my next quarter's challenges are an aquathlon, a triathlon and the Great North Swim! I'm not the fittest human and I'm pretty lazy, so motivating myself to do even half the training I should has been tough, but so far I'm pulling through alright. I'm also the world's clumsiest person. I've got a titanium ankle and I broke my foot a week before the Bath Half Marathon three years ago, so touch wood I can stay in one piece for this year's events!

I am so excited to take part in new challenges like the triathlon. I also plan to do some bake sales and a quiz to raise even further funds. I've set myself a target of £500 and I'm 33% there, so if you would like to contribute to my efforts it would be greatly appreciated, just visit my JustGiving page here.

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: “Always dream big and chase those goals”

Posted on: March 19 2019

Mandy Bunn (low res).jpgMandy Bunn climbed Kilimanjaro and raised a huge amount of money for MS-UK

I decided I wanted to do something big for my 50th birthday in January 2019. I wanted to see how far I could push myself both mentally and physically whilst raising money for a great cause. My partner, who has multiple sclerosis, uses MS-UK’s wellness centre Josephs Court in Essex regularly. I booked to climb Mount Kilimanjaro through Discovery Adventure. Located in Tanzania and standing at 5,895 meters above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. It has always been on my bucket list and my father inspired me to do it!

The climb would take four and a half days, plus one and a half days to descent. The steep unpredictable terrain coupled with the altitude would certainly be the challenge I was looking for and very much a change from my day job. After roping in my friend Sue to join me I began fundraising for MS-UK. It is a national charity that is close to my heart and does great work. It is dedicated to empowering people with multiple sclerosis to make the most of today, and live life to the full.

Day one

After flying from Heathrow to Nairobi and then catching an internal flight to Kilimanjaro airport, we finally arrived at our hotel ready for the start of our adventure. After meeting with the commander Helen from Discover Adventure and the other group members we set off from Machame Gate at 10am, which is already at an elevation of 1,800 metres.

At this point we were all full of enthusiasm for the next seven hours of walking which lay ahead. We set off through the rainforest, the terrain was incredibly steep and therefore we had to go very slowly.

We carried four litres of water each and every day which we were advised to drink throughout the day in order to prevent altitude sickness – as you can imagine, there were toilet breaks aplenty! With an elevation of 2,835 metres, we arrived at Machame Camp at 5pm for some hot food and an early night.

Day two

The next day we were woken at 5.30am, the temperature had dropped to -5 degrees and I found myself trying to get dressed in my sleeping bag!

We started walking and spent six hours walking up boulders – the rainforest was beginning to end, the trees had disappeared and we started to walk on a path through ferns before we arrived above the clouds at Shira Cave Camp – with an elevation of 3,750 meters above sea level.

The porters were absolute troopers in carrying our kit along with their own and endeavoured to keep our spirits high by singing local songs. Unfortunately, the first member of our group dropped out due to altitude sickness. We enjoyed another cooked meal and another early night.

Day three

We were woken up at 5.30am again after a disturbed night’s sleep – although I was sleeping, the sleep quality wasn’t good.

Sue put the group through the usual morning warm up session which was entertainment in itself, more so for the locals!

Today was going to be a big test on altitude – we were climbing up as high as 4,600 metres above sea level to Lava Tour before dropping down to 3,900 meters to sleep. The reason we climb high and sleep low is purely to adapt the change in oxygen levels.

The terrain was “Mars-like”, very rocky and unsteady under foot. I really enjoyed that day and was still feeling good, however some of the group were showing the first signs of altitude sickness and really struggling.

Day four

After being woken up at the unearthly hour of 4.45am we started off by climbing the Barraco Wall, which was huge. It took two hours to climb up it before spending the rest of the day walking up and down hills in very hot weather. We had lunch at 10.30am and arrived at Base Camp at 4pm which stands at 4,900 meters above sea level. Unfortunately that day, two other team members left the trip, one pulled out, but the other was advised by the doctor he couldn’t continue. He had high-altitude pulmonary edema which is a life-threatening condition where fluid was on his lungs, so to continue the trip would have been deadly.

Day five

After six hours of terrible sleep, we were woken at 11pm to start the summit. I was given porridge (which is more like gruel). Just as we were about to go, another team member dropped out. Head torches on we started walking in absolute darkness, uphill and very slowly.

During the seven-hour uphill walk, people were being very sick, suffering from dizziness and becoming delusional, luckily for me, the only thing that remained was the slight upset stomach which I had on day two. The lack of air was hard, and everything became a big effort and I was really struggling with the cold.

We arrived at Stella Point just as the sun rose, but we still had 45 minutes to get to Uhuru Peak which at the summit stands 5,985 metres above sea level. As we walked to the peak, we were surrounded by other zombie-like walkers – some were being carried either to the peak or back down the mountain, and people were still vomiting, but I made it!

The overall relief of making it to Uhuru Peak gave me a second wind and after some photographs, I quickly got myself back down to base camp. The downhill walk was a killer on the feet. When we got back to basecamp, we had a quick lunchbreak and then another two hour walk to Millennium Camp (just because we hadn’t walked enough that day!) for a well-deserved sleep.

I was absolutely exhausted to the point I couldn’t unzip my bag to get my sleeping bag out. Everything seemed to require so much energy, which I just didn’t have. I just fell in the tent!

More force feeding and the final Kilimanjaro sing song and dance with the 50 strong crew who had supported and looked after us all the way. It was so infectious we were all singing and dancing in our exhausted state, it so lifted the mood.

Overall, my trip was varied with huge ups and downs and lots of laughter and camaraderie. This is undoubtedly up there with my best and most rewarding challenges. I’ll always a grateful to be able to have had the experience.

So thanks Pops for planting the seed!

What’s next you might ask? Well watch this space…

Always dream big and chase those goals because you never know when you will not have the luxury to be able to do it again.

I am extremely grateful for my family’s support and the generosity of everyone who has donated. There is still time to sponsor me and if you would like to, please click here.

Thank you,

Bunny

 

One man, four mountains, in one day!

Posted on: March 14 2019

Guy Cooper blog pic.pngMS-UK fundraiser of month Guy Cooper fights back against his own MS by fundraising for others affected by MS

In May 2011, I was just three weeks into a new job. One afternoon, I suddenly lost vision in my left eye. After a couple of days, of my vision getting worse, I went to my GP. He immediately referred me to the Royal Gwent Hospital, Wales. After nine months of tests and examinations I was sent for an MRI scan.

When the results came in, I was informed that I was being transferred to my local neurology team. At my first appointment with neurology, I was shown my MRI Scan and told I had have multiple sclerosis (MS).

My MS has progressed slowly, but I have had some minor relapses and struggled with fatigue. I've also had a slow, but increasing loss of sensation in my left leg and arm.

To combat the fatigue I took up cross-country walking because I am surrounded by mountains where I live in Wales and it occurred to me I had never explored most of them - I wanted to put that right. I spent many happy hours in the areas overlooking Caerphilly and Cardiff, learning about the local history.

In the summer 2018, I suffered my worse relapse to date, which lasted eight weeks and took even longer to recover from. It hit me hard and really knocked my confidence. For the first time since I had been diagnosed I felt like I was losing the fight.

I decided to fight back from the relapse and I needed something to work towards. So I set myself the challenge to attempt my most ambitious hike to date. After receiving encouragement and support from my friends when I mentioned trying to do something, I then shared my plans with my work colleague Stina. I was braced to be told I was being stupid, but not only did she back me, she offered to help me plan the route and train for the attempt. My line manager Tim, who is also a keen walker, heard about the idea and also offered to help.

A few days after Christmas 2018, I was doing a Google search for MS support when I stumbled across the MS-UK website. I was impressed by how friendly it seemed, with natural photos and names of real people there to help. I liked the services they were offering on their website and decided I wanted this charity to benefit from my adventure, so I set up a JustGiving page. I spoke with the fundraising team because I wanted to make sure the money I raised would go towards sustaining the services that MS-UK provides for people with MS. I realise that not everyone is as fortunate as me. My symptoms haven't been life changing, I've had excellent medical support from my GP and MS team at The Royal Gwent, and I have an amazing group of family and friends who have stood by me.

So, on 16 March 2019 at around 8am, I will be setting off with support from Tim and Stina, to cover Bedwas, Machen, Rudry and Caerphilly Mountains in one day. The route will be just over 14.5 miles and we hope to complete it in under eight hours – wish me luck!

If you are inspired by Guy’s story and would like to support his fundraising effort, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/guy-cooper2 to donate. Thank you!

If you’ve been inspired to take on your own challenge, contact Lucy on 01206 226500, or email lucy@ms-uk.org.

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