On Valentine’s Day, when love is all around us, Glen and David reflect on the strength of love in the face of multiple sclerosis (MS) in this guest blog. They tell us why a dear friend’s diagnosis of MS led them to take on the mighty marathon challenge...
After years trying to get a place for the Virgin Monday London Marathon, we have both secured a place to run the race on Sunday 28 April 2019, and we could not be more excited!
Our training is now underway and we have also joined the Prestwich Athletics Club to help us with our training. This year we are extremely proud to be supporting MS-UK who provide support to those awaiting a diagnosis for multiple sclerosis or for those already living with it. A charity like this is something that is very close to our hearts.
So why have we chosen this charity?
We moved onto our street in 2003 after taking a leap of faith in buying a new house in an area that we didn’t really know much about. Then, in 2004, a lovely young couple named Chris and Claire bought and moved into the house directly opposite to ours and right next door to our already great friends Helen and Jamie. We were all of similar ages and starting out with our grown up futures ahead of us. It wasn’t very long until we all struck up a great friendship and we started socialising together with dinner parties, drinks and silly karaoke discos!
We had formed an amazing triangle of trust between each couple and began making some truly brilliant memories. We were very lucky to have such fantastic neighbours that we could now call true friends. All of our futures were bright.
Soon after moving in, Chris and Claire got married. They had a beautiful wedding ceremony and celebrations in France. It was their perfect day and the start of their married bliss. Unfortunately, two weeks later their world was turned upside down and their future together took an unexpected turn after Claire was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. For a couple who were just starting out on their planned journey, their future was having to be rewritten.
Fast forward to 2019, and we can now look back and share what their journey has been so far…and how MS has affected Claire, Chris, their families and us as friends.
Anyone who is diagnosed with MS will soon learn that no two journeys are the same. The body is a wondrous thing, but how MS takes over it, is different for everyone. We had never had anyone close to us have MS, so this was all new to us all.
The text books say that MS is a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. How was this diagnosis of Claire’s going to manifest itself? We have now seen first-hand that this disease can be debilitating. A bright, fit and healthy young lady with a fantastic future as a school teacher slowly had the carpet pulled from under her feet by the effects of MS taking over her body. The past 10 years have been a rollercoaster for Claire and Chris and everyone around them.
No matter how much fight you put up, the fatigue and progressive failing limbs can bring the strongest of people down. With that comes the black depressive days when you realise that your independence is ebbing away, you feel isolated and being a proud person is a blocker on accepting the support you may eventually need.
We have witnessed Claire’s battle with MS and her battle with herself. The ups and downs, highs and lows all followed. The pain, tiredness, frustration, sadness and steely determination not to be beaten. The intense pressure on both Claire and
Chris would have been a significant test on any relationship. Both have had to adapt to a life that neither of them planned for or ever wanted. Their love and strength for each other has been incredible.
Huge decisions had to be made on what their new future could be. Family and friends also had to adapt their lives to be able to offer love and support when needed and to take into account Claire’s capabilities, ensuring she was not being excluded. To watch your wife, daughter, sister or friend battle with something that you cannot physically help them with is cruel. How do you react? What can you ask or say? When is it appropriate to step in? No-one can teach you these things but you have to stay strong for that person and just wait until they are ready to let you in. Even in writing this piece we sought approval from Claire as she is still a very private person and contains her situation within those people very close to her.
Eventually realising their limits, Claire and Chris had to find another single level house where her mobility was not as exasperated. MS was preventing Claire to live a normal life by taking away her ability to be fully mobile. It was a very sad day for us all when they left their home opposite us to move into a house they had to choose because of Claire’s condition. Fortunately, they didn’t have to go too far, so we have maintained our fantastic friendships and memory making which we all do with joy!
Through receiving fantastic support from MS specialists and from the care services, Claire and Chris are now living much happier within the confines of what MS has done to her mobility. They have received some amazing treatment, adapted their home, lifestyle and accepted care that has been put in place to support them both. Whilst Claire is physically restricted, she is now embracing her life and extracting everything she possibly can with a beautiful smile on her face. Our triangle of trust is now stronger than ever, and the support network has expanded, with even more very special friends joining the fundraising team. Go #TeamPurple!
Since the times Claire was first diagnosed, there has been huge progress made on the support people can get from having an early diagnosis, improved medications and treatments and more research being done.
This is where MS-UK come into their own. The work they do is helping many people in the same situation as Claire and Chris. It is an amazing charity which does great things.
We are now looking to support them to raise awareness and make a difference to the amazing work that they do via our fundraising. We have a £2,000 target and need your help to reach it!
Many thanks for your support!
Glen & David xx
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.
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!
‘After missing the chance to run the Virgin Money London Marathon through the ballot, I decided that for 2019 I would fundraise for a charity close to my heart, MS-UK. I'm pushing hard, taking on multiple challenges and races between now and the marathon. So far, fundraising is going ok.
‘My Dad was diagnosed with MS when I was a child. I still remember the day he sat me down and told me. I had no idea how bad MS was or how it was going to change our lives and yet it still tore me apart.
‘Sitting here now typing this still breaks my heart and brings a tear to my eye.
‘For the past 20+ years, I've seen MS take my father away from me. At first, it was only really fatigue that was noticeable and a few days where he wasn't great on his legs.
‘As time went on, he lost the ability to drive and eventually couldn't even walk or feed himself.
‘MS has also damaged his brain, wiping out his short term memory and his ability to talk. This has been the biggest impact on me, not being able to speak to him, ask him questions and all the things a son should be able to ask his father.
‘I regret not making the most of the last good years with him while I still had the chance.
My Mum cares for my Dad 24/7 which really takes its toll on her, she's stubborn though and does everything she can for him.
I chose MS-UK and the London Marathon to show my support for my family and to raise as many funds for such a supportive MS charity that gets much of its funding through the London Marathon charity places.’
You can find out more and make a donation on Gavin's JustGiving page.
A Colchester man who recently revealed his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) has made history by raising the £2,000 needed to run the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon for MS-UK in just four days, smashing the charity’s record.
Since opening up on his blog about his MS and his struggles with mental health, Tom Cutts, 26, has attracted 107 supporters to his JustGiving page and raised a stunning £2,330*, cementing his place in next year’s prestigious race in less than 96 hours.
The former Wivenhoe Town footballer was diagnosed with MS in October 2017 after feeling pain in his chest, head and stomach. Since then he has admitted to falling into depression as he struggled to come to terms with a future living with the incurable neurological condition.
Mr Cutts said: “At first I thought it [the pains] could be to do with the usual stress of work but even with medication these pains never subsided.
“Getting that diagnosis sent thoughts spiraling throughout my mind. The first once was ‘what is multiple sclerosis?’ I’d only ever heard the word one or twice in my life but never knew what it meant.
“My diagnosis has caused me to fall into depression, my anxiety levels have skyrocketed and at times so have my stress levels. Coming out of depression takes time, there’s no one-click solution.”
When asked about how he felt about raising the money in record time, he continued: “The response I have received on my sponsorship page has left me speechless.
“To hit my target in less than 96 hours and to raise over £2000 that quickly doesn’t feel real. Recording MS-UK’s quickest time to hit this mark has made me feel privileged to have so many great people in my life who have allowed me to achieve this. It has been one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.
“Since announcing my diagnosis to the public on Friday evening I’ve received so many messages of support from friends and people around the world that it has been hard to manage all these conversations at once.
“As well as raising money for MS-UK, my aim is to raise awareness of both MS and mental health, which are both very personal to me.
“Sharing my experiences of MS and opening up about my depression was important to me as even though I am going through a hard time in my life and struggling inside, if I am able to help just one person then my blog is a success.
“I hope to help people realise that they are not alone with these battles in life. People keep telling me that I am inspirational but to me I’m just being myself!”
*Figures as of 13 June 2018
With temperatures topping a sweltering 24C, over 100 MS-UK runners managed to complete the 26.2 mile course in front of a bumper turnout. Then it was back to the QEII building in Westminster for a well-deserved massage, courtesy of volunteer physiotherapy students from the University of Essex, and a celebratory lunch with friends and family.
We at MS-UK would like to thank everyone who ran for us, their sponsors, and all our volunteers who make this event happen.
Chris Bradshaw and his dad John, otherwise known as ‘Team Bradshaw’, spoke to us about their own Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 experience running as Father and Son...
Chris: The answer is simple; I wanted to run for my father-in-law Mick Denne who has had multiple sclerosis (MS) since he was 28 and is now confined to a wheelchair.
John: I supported Chris in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017 and I was so inspired by all the charities that I was moved to volunteer and run for MS-UK in 2018. At the tender age of 61, and having never run a marathon before, I knew I would have to start from scratch, training and gaining injuries just like all the others on the incredible marathon journey.
Chris: The support MS-UK provide for Mick and other MS sufferers is second to none and spurred me on to run the race in both 2017 and 2018.
John: The first time I met with MS-UK was in 2017 and it was like joining a new family - a family that would support me throughout my journey. I was now a member of Team Purple
We would both like to wish every member of Team Purple who ran on Sunday 22 April, including and all the staff and volunteers at MS-UK, a big thank you for an amazing day and a family memory we will never forget.
The ballot for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 on Sunday 29 April is now open!
It's a beautiful day in the capital, and our amazing #TeamPurple runners are getting ready to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK.
They will be joining so many other dedicated charity supporters this morning, and at last count the event had raised collectively over £20,000,000 for charities!
So, why have our runners decided to get involved? Vic, from Essex, remembers watching her Dad run when she was a child. Now she's running in his footsteps, as he no longer can. Sue and Ellie-Rose are a mother and daughter team taking on the mighty 26.2 miles together. The Boland family are all in it together and have flown over from the USA to run today. So many reasons, but each one has been touched in some way by multiple sclerosis (MS).
All week we have been at the Expo event, meeting our runners and wishing them lots of luck.
Have a look at the messages of support, positivity and determination that they wrote on the MS-UK #TeamPurple runners wall in our Facebook album today!
For everyone running on 22 April 2018, whoever you're running for, good luck.
You can follow MS-UK on Twitter to see marathon day live updates!
Each and every one of this year’s MS-UK Virgin Money London Marathon runners has a personal connection to multiple sclerosis (MS). All of them have a different story to tell and have been affected by the condition in a different way, but the one thing they all have in common is that it has caused them to take action and to help others with MS.
MS-UK is a national charity with a number of services used by thousands of people affected by MS every year. From the MS-UK Helpline and the new counselling service, to New Pathways magazine and the MS-UK wellness centre, Josephs Court, none of these services can exist without the help of fundraisers, donors, volunteers and legacies. So to thank those who have given up their time and celebrate their upcoming achievement on Sunday here are just a few of their stories…
After falling ill and not being able to train, Shaun Marriott is back up and running and ready for this week’s Virgin Money London Marathon…
Our April Fundraiser of the Month Vic Darnell tells us why she is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK this weekend...and why every step will be for her Dad...
Rosie Rollinson, who is set to take on the capital at this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK, explains why she's running 26.2 miles all to raise vital funds for the charity…
In this guest blog, Ryan Hallworth shares why he is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon and it’s all because of mum…
Setters and Lady (or Chris and Fran to normal people) tell us all about why they are taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon for those who can’t…
Wednesday 18 April saw the opening of the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo, the event that kicks of the marathon and where this year’s runners register to receive their official running number for Sunday’s big event.
This year’s expo was opened by the Spirit of London winners Matthew Rees and David Wyeth. Swansea Harrier Matthew famously helped David, whose legs began to buckle beneath him due to exhaustion, down The Mall to the finish line in last year’s race. It was that very moment that encapsulated the unique spirit of the Virgin Money London Marathon and inspired the theme for 2018.
Matthew and David are the first winners of the new Spirit of London award, followed by former boxer Michael Watson, who completed the 2003 London Marathon 12 years after suffering severe brain injuries in a world title fight against Chris Eubank. Watson spent 40 days in a coma and six years in a wheelchair before taking part in the marathon in April 2003.
This year MS-UK has 109 runners running to raise money for the charity so it can continue to support anyone affected by MS. On opening day the MS-UK fundraising team saw a record number of runners attend, ready to get their numbers and excited to run on Sunday.
Reminding runners to make sure they come along and sign up, MS-UK Fundraising Manager, Jill Purcell, said: “Runners can visit the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo from Wednesday 18 April to Saturday 21 April to register for their running numbers. We’ve seen a record number of runners attend on the first day alone and are looking forward to seeing each and every one of you.
“Every year I’m brought to tears by our runner’s stories. Everyone’s reason for running is different, but the one thing they all have in common is that we are all working hard to support people with MS. I’m incredibly proud of all our runners. I’ve seen and heard how much training and hard work they have put into their preparation and I have no doubts that they’ve got this!”
Today marks the beginning of Expo, four days of fun-filled excitment at ExCeL in London where runners taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon will be registering this week!
Every year over 100 runners run 26.2 miles in aid of MS-UK, raising thousands of pounds for us. Over 100,000 people in the UK live with multiple sclerosis, and we want to be able to provide our vital services to everyone who needs them, so every single penny they raise goes towards helping MS-UK continue our work.
The MS-UK fundraising team is ready to welcome #TeamPurple to Expo this week, so if you're coming along please say hi to us on stand 583!
Wednesday 18 April 11:00-20:00
Thursday 19 April 10:00-20:00
Friday 20 April 10:00-20:00
Saturday 21 April 09:00-17:00
We'll be live tweeting all week from Expo (and of course on marathon day itself this Sunday) so follow us on Twitter to stay updated!
Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager