Because we can. That’s why we run…for those that can’t. Multiple sclerosis (MS) has had a great impact on both our families. Fran’s cousin has suffered very badly for over 30 years but was only diagnosed 8 years ago, and is now effectively immobile. It’s heartbreaking to see her this way. My mum was diagnosed in 2016. We are still coming to terms with her reducing mobility; as each month passes that little bit more is taken away from her. My parents sold their lovely home last summer, which they so dearly loved, and have moved into a new home much more suitable to her needs, and without stairs! My cousin, at 38, was also diagnosed at the same time. So we took the decision to do something special and to raise funds towards helping out those close to our hearts, and many others, inflicted by this horrible disease.
We always say we’d do one. And kept saying it for years and years. Now, well past our prime and in our naughty forties, the marathon word finally became reality. No more excuses; it was time to make some serious cash for an MS charity. Fran had already secretly entered both of us into the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017 ballot, and the first I knew about it was when ‘a lucky you’ package came through the post congratulating me on my place. First time of asking as well! So with my place confirmed, MS-UK kindly gave a Gold Bond place to Fran with the plan being to run together and raise money to help those with MS. We did all sorts to raise funds including charity bucket collections, bake-offs, sweep stakes and organising quiz nights. We had fantastic support from family and friends via donations to our charity page, and as we requested, many gave a donation in lieu of our birthday and Christmas presents. Our son even asked for the same - top lad!
Training was ‘interesting’ and certainly much more time consuming and hard going than we ever predicted. The MS-UK Marathon Facebook page was so useful for tips and encouragement. It was inspiring to see how others were tackling the same challenges, supporting and encouraging each other daily. It was also, oddly enough, quite comforting to see that others found it hard going too…we weren’t alone!
The Big Day
For those of you that have already run it, you will already know the crowds are just amazing; the shouts of constant support really hits you. Literally every mile is packed with people spurring you on. You certainly won’t need those motivating iPod beats that accompanied you on your training routes, and besides, you won’t be able to hear it! The buzz and the relief you get from crossing that line makes all that hard work worth it. The time doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t. Who cares? The achievement; that’s what counts! Ride that wave, and you may even find you go faster than you planned. Fran managed a brilliant ‘Good for Age Time’, which meant…
…automatic entry next year! Wouldn’t waste that now. So despite saying we’d only run one, we are now doing it together all over again in 2018, and again for this wonderful charity. However, one massive difference stands out this time round: the weather. We had it great training up to and on the day for the London marathon in 2017; this time round it has been so pants!!! But that’ll make this years that little bit more special.
Another? Best ask us after we cross that line. Personally, I fancy a sponsored pub crawl!
You can find out more and sponsor this amazing couple on their fundraising page. Good luck guys!
I moved to London in 2016 and I wanted to get involved with and volunteer for multiple sclerosis (MS) charities.
I was diagnosed with MS in 2013 and I wanted to do something positive. I knew the Virgin Money London Marathon was around the corner, I wanted to be involved with the event. I contacted MS-UK and they were more than happy to take me on as a volunteer, I assisted the runners to make their way to the post-race reception.
Since then I have been asked to volunteer at a couple of other events, cheering on the participants for events such as the Royal Parks Half and RideLondon.
The MS-UK team are great and very welcoming, it gives me a chance to do something positive and meet new people.
Now in 2018, I have signed up to run for them in the Virgin Money London Marathon, I was even asked to do a little talk about my marathon experiences.
I would highly recommend joining their volunteer team!
Hi, my name is Matt. I’m 23 years old, I live in Marlborough, Wiltshire and I am working for the year as a Teaching Assistant and Sports Coach at St Francis Prep school, Pewsey, before I head back to the University of Gloucestershire in September to complete a ‘PGCE in Primary Education’.
I originally started my fundraising for MS charities back when I was just 17 years old by doing the Reading Half Marathon. Then I decided to really try all I could to make a difference to the lives of people who live with multiple sclerosis and pushed myself to get a place on behalf of MS-UK to run in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.
When I found out that I was able to run for MS-UK I was absolutely overwhelmed with excitement and pride; as I knew even then what great work MS-UK did and the difference they made to those around the UK suffering with both RR and PPMS.
Although I was undeniably nervous at the task I had set myself and challenge I had ahead of me, I knew that compared to the struggle that those suffering from MS go through day-in, day-out, I now had an opportunity to do what I could to help.
The main reason that I have such a strong interest and passion for trying to help those who suffer from MS is because it is a disease that personally affected my family.
‘Ten years ago my mum, Lorraine, was diagnosed was Primary Progressive MS. However, where in the depths of such a horrible revelation it would be easy for a person to bow down to a disease and to think that their race had been run, my mum decided to stand strong and fight PPMS head on.’
My mum is a true inspiration for me and my family, and is constantly looking for a cure or new research that could help her win this fight once and for all. Whether its researching non-biased information and advice on how to deal with Primary Progressive MS; using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to aid in recovery; or just this year making a trip over to Serbia to ‘SwissMedica Clinic’ to undergo stem cell treatment as the next step in her fight to recovery.
‘Ten years on and my mum is still fighting.’
Having seen first-hand the struggle that those suffering from PPMS go through, I am inspired every single day by my mum and strive to do whatever I can to help in her and the thousands of others in her situation to beat this disease.
‘The reason that I continue to fundraise for MS-UK is because I know first-hand the difference that their support can make to those living with MS, and whilst much progress has been made in combating the disease, there is still a way to go.’
A real highlight in my fundraising career, which showed just how generous people can be to one another, was during my third year of university. I was the University of Gloucestershire 1st XI Men’s Hockey Captain as well as the ‘Charity and Community Engagement Officer’. I decided that we could use our last league hockey match of the season as an opportunity to raise money for a cause we held dear, as well as leaving a legacy behind to future years of fundraising and charity work throughout the university.
And so I got in touch with Swansea University and pitched the idea. I was overwhelmed by the response from them and their supporters as well as other clubs at our university that came to watch the game; people who I didn’t know, who had now found this common ground with of ‘wanting to make a difference to people’s lives’. And so we managed to raises around £500 that was then split between MS-UK and Meningitis Trust Foundation on the day.
‘It really proved to me that people who different walks of life can come together a make a positive difference.’
So, what is my latest challenge? Well, I had hoped it would be the Bath Half Marathon this February…however, the weather had other ideas! It was such a shame that the event was cancelled, but I really wanted to earn the generous donations on my fundraising page, so I organised a 25k run at Marlborough Fitness and Performance Centre (MFPC), my local gym.
On 11 March I finished the run in 1hour 56mins which I was very pleased with and EVEN more pleasingly I managed to smash my target of raising £500 and so far have raised £1,198!!!!!
Thank you to every single person who has sponsored me, you have helped me make a real difference supporting MS-UK!
So the halls booked. That was free, one of the perks of working in a school.
Now what to do.
It seemed there have been lots of quizzes recently fundraising for various charities so I wanted to do something different. One of the suggestions was a virtual race evening.
Ok what’s that?
It’s an evening of horse racing, watched on TV, races are bet on and the the race footage is shown to reveal the race and winner.
I was given the number of a man who would run the event for a fee of £200. Is it worth the money?
Well he would come along with the technology, so we would be able to all see the races, there would be race cards on the tables and he had a app on the laptop that places your bet, prints you out a betting slip and then works out the winnings. For me this was worth every penny. So race-man booked!
Do we/don’t we need a bar?
I know my audience, they would want to be able to have a drink on a Friday night and for work colleagues it was the end of term, so we are on holiday!
OK so I would need a licence to sell alcohol, simple, just fill in a lengthy form and submit to the local council, along with the correct fee, for me this was £21.
Then Christmas happened…
Following Christmas my daughter and I set up a Facebook event page and sent out invites.
On this page we were able to do reminders and I also asked for any unwanted gifts that would be suitable as raffle prizes, they came flooding in….
People that couldn’t make it to the evening, pledged money onto my JustGiving account, which I had also put into the page.
The week leading up to our race night, I hired glasses from the local supermarket, for a deposit. There would only be a cost for any breakages.
They also agreed I could return any unsold items.
So the the day of the event I collected the glasses, bought snacks and soft drinks along with alcohol.
Tony the man running the race evening arrived in plenty of time to set up. Friends helped me to set up for the raffle and the bar, ahead of my husband and friend running the bar for the evening.
Tony asked for two or three helpers who would be willing to be the tote, my daughter, her boyfriend and a friend offered to do this, so Tony took them through what they needed to do, apparently it was really easy!
All was ready when the first of our guests walked through the door, the evening was a great success, the races got everyone involved, the raffle went really well and the bar pretty much sold out!
My friends and family had a great night, but most importantly they helped me to raise a whooping £850 profit for MS-UK! With match funding of £350 I raised £1,200 – amazing!
This month our fundraiser of the month is Joshua Joseph. Joshua ran the British 10k for us on 09 July and has been fundraising for the last month in support of MS-UK! Here is his story...
My name is Joshua Joseph, I’m 25 years old and I fundraised for MS-UK in the Virgin Sport British 10K run.
I chose MS-UK because very recently my best friend was diagnosed with MS. It’s in its infant stages, however I felt so lost and scared that the only thing I could do was try to raise some money and support the cause the only way I knew how. I did the British 10K in the past and thought this would be a good place to get fit and do something that showed support for my best friend.
In all honesty, I chose MS-UK because when I was looking online I really liked what I saw, plus I really liked the logo! I remember the day I found out about my best friend, this run literally came into my head and I thought it had to be done, that was my only drive to do this event.
I tend to keep quite fit, however cardio is my kryptonite, I think it always will be. I found myself out on some of the hottest days of the year, doing an odd 3K, 4K here and there. I remember one day I did an 8K and my knee was killing me, which made me realise that I needed to wear a strap when running. I wanted to have little sachets of peanut butter, but because of sheer laziness, that didn’t work out lol. I thoroughly enjoyed my training, I think that’s one thing you need to do. It’s a very serious thing and doing it really helps to get your mind in the right place. Training really allowed me to understand exactly how much my body could take.
I managed to raise (at the time of writing this) £1,206, my target was £1,000. I originally thought of aiming for £500 as I thought that might have been a push, however my friend said, ‘Go for a grand, you can do it…’ – So I did. I made the page on JustGiving.com and put the link on my Instagram and Facebook. I think because a lot of my friends have a large social following, the message spread quite quickly, that and the fact my first donation was £200, which came from a very close friend of mine, so that gave me a good bumper to start my fundraising.
In terms of fundraising, I would say don’t be shy when it comes to telling people that you’re raising money for something, especially when it’s such a great cause. I will continue to raise and I will continue to push myself to do different things.
This has been an amazing journey.
I honestly don’t think it’s set in for me that my best friend has MS yet. He was there when I was born, he named me, I honestly can’t think of a time we didn’t speak. So if by raising money, or simply answering a text or call when he’s annoyed is all I can do, I’m going to try my best to take care of him.
The British 10k is today in London, and time to put all the hard training to the test that our wonderful runners have been training for over the last few months. This year we have a team of 23 runners, who have currently raised between them £5,500 for MS-UK which is amazing!
I just wanted to wish our MS-UK team, and everyone else who is taking part in the event a massive GOOD LUCK! I’m sure you will smash it!
We have a cheer point on Duncannon Street, which is near Trafalgar Square. If you are in London, feel free to come and join us and help us be the loudest cheer point on the 10k route.
If you want to take part for us next year do get in touch with me by email and I can pop you on a list to contact when we know next year’s date. The minimum fundraising requirement is £200 which is really achievable.
Now, go have an amazing day!
Our fundraiser of the month this month is Wendy Cole, who ran a 100k ultra challenge for MS-UK on the 27 May!
Hi! My name’s Wendy Cole. In August 2015 I took part in my first 100km ultra challenge, London2Cambridge. I’m a runner who fancied a change, so decided I would walk the route. I enjoyed the experience so much that I decided pretty quickly that I would take on another challenge, this time the London2Brighton 100km challenge on the 27 May, raising funds for MS-UK.
Back in 2014 I was very fortunate to receive a charity place with MS-UK in the Virgin Money London Marathon and found them so supportive prior to and during the race that it was a pleasure to get the opportunity to raise funds for them again.
I lost my Mum in 1997 at the age of 50 to Primary Progressive MS, so this is a cause very close to my heart and it’s great to be able to raise awareness of this disease and the work MS-UK do, supporting those affected by MS.
So, in July last year I signed up for London2Brighton in memory of my Mum. I knew I’d completed the distance before but also knew that this challenge would be much hillier. Too right it was!!! There’s a particularly huge hill at 88km, just where you don’t need one.
Again I decided to walk this ultra. I’ve run 11 marathons and 32 half marathons and found walking with a full rucksack quite different from running. You’re on your feet much longer, which is tiring, and you’re using different muscle groups, so ache in different places.
In the lead up to the big day, my training consisted of running three marathons, Brighton on 09 April, London (guide running with a visually impaired runner) on 23 April and Stratford on 07 May. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend running three marathons in five weeks!! I also walked the canal route from Worcester to Birmingham (28.4 miles) two weeks before the challenge.
At 8am on Saturday 27 May I set off from Old Deer Park in Richmond with just over 1500 other eager participants taking on the full challenge. The heavens opened just 0.6 miles from the start, but the rain stopped by the time we’d got our macs out. It was then dry for the remainder of the challenge. We walked day and night, on road and off road, over numerous stiles, taking in short refuelling stops every 25 kms or so at the checkpoints until we reached our final destination at Brighton Racecourse at 7.06am…still smiling, and for me, blister free.
I’m delighted to have exceeded my fundraising target of £300 and would like to thank Nick Adams from MS-UK for regularly making contact with me, offering support and generally seeing how my training was going.
My recovery’s been good. Two days after the event I felt pretty normal again and even managed to wear a kitten heel to work!!
I often wonder what my Mum would think of me now. I was a total couch potato until I hit the age of 40, so she has never seen any of these achievements. She’d probably think I was bonkers!!
Anyway, time for a little rest now…until the next challenge. I’m running New York Marathon in November and Tokyo Marathon in February, so will have a few weeks off over the summer until training starts again.
In this guest blog, Gemma tells us why she is running the British 10K 2017 for MS-UK...
Hi my name is Gemma, and I’m going to be taking part in the British 10K 2017 for MS-UK.
In April 2005 I met James. From the moment we met we just clicked as if we had known each other for years. There and then I knew I had met my best friend and the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and we have been together ever since.
In December 2006 I finished work as usual and walked home to get dinner on, ready for when James arrived home from work. When he stepped in the door I noticed that half of his face had dropped. At first I thought he had had a mini stroke!
While we waited for the taxi to beep that it was here, to take us up to A&E we discussed what it could be. ‘MS’ James said. His mum passed away when he was 9 years old. She had MS and was bed ridden. She had pneumonia and was not strong enough to fight it when she sadly passed away.
At the hospital he was told that he had to stay in over night to be monitored to then have an MRI test in the morning. I had to say goodbye and that night I stayed with my in-laws.
In the morning my phone rang. It was James. I answered it and he was just sobbing. At first I couldn’t make out what he was saying. ‘Demyelination’ he said. ‘What does that mean?’ I replied. ‘MS’.
That was the day our life changed for ever. At first we thought it was a death sentence. But it isn’t, it just means that you have to grab hold of life now!
In November 2007 we had our first child, a beautiful baby girl. But James was struggling at work. He is a fully qualified chef and has a passion for food. But little did we know that the heat/stress of the kitchen was flaring up his MS. So he went into butchery the following year but this also became difficult too. This was hard for me to watch.
In September 2009 we had our second child, a handsome baby boy. Our family was complete but James was now having 3-5 relapses a year. He was told to give up work. Every time he got over one e.g. loss of legs, sight. Another would hit him. I was now not working, to care for him too. He was also now on beta interferons injections. These were very painful and didn’t seem to be slowing the disease down, this scared me.
In August 2010 we moved from Norfolk to Hertfordshire. New doctors, new neurologist, new MS Nurse, it wasn’t easy. The relapses were still happening violently, especially on his left side.
In June 2011 James started Natalizumab (Tysabri) infusions every 28 days, these have been working, thankfully he hasn’t had a relapse since starting them.
It’s now 2017 and for the first time I feel like we have got this. Don’t get me wrong it’s still a massive hurdle in our life and there are good days and bad but you just have to try your best to adapt, to find a way to try and be a so-called ‘normal’ family.
I am doing this run now as I feel the time is right. James is my hero, he never moans, he just takes it one day at a time. I’m so proud of him and the way he handles it. Now it’s my turn to make him proud and be his hero.
I also want to show our children if you put your mind to something you can achieve anything.
On Sunday 19 June, MS-UK were invited to bring our beloved mascot Myles the bearto the first ever junior event held near our offices in Essex, and it was an amazing day!
What a morning! Over 130 children and their families attended the event and the children ran 2k to reach the finish line. Everyone taking part completed the course, and there were lots of proud parents.
It was great to see the Colchester Gazette there covering the event, you can check out the article about the event on their website. Also, we have some awesome photos on our Facebook page which you can view today.
Our mascot Myles took part in the warm up, he had some great moves, and I think Myles should bring out a fitness video!
If you have a fundraising event coming up, and you would like Myles to be there, just email Mark@ms-uk.org and we’ll let you know if we can make it.
See you soon,