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
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…
Hello everyone, I'm Shaun Marriott and I will be taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon for MS-UK this year!
When applying for a charity place in the Virgin Money London Marathon there was only one cause I wanted to help and that was MS. I know two people with the condition, one being my stepdad. He is a kind man whose everyday life has become a lottery on how, if and when he has a bad flare up. His headaches can leave him hidden away, he suffers with shingles and viruses every month, yet he still continues to battle on and support me and his kids, he is also a fantastic step-grandfather to my boys. The other person I know is the wife of a friend of mine who has struggled over the years too.
I feel the work that MS-UK does is massively important, as there’s no cure for the condition, but the help, support and facilitates they offer are vital.
I believe a positive mind and healthy lifestyle can be the medicine, so when I found out I was doing the Virgin Money London Marathon I started training. I was only running 3-5 miles every other day, but it was easy because it was nice weather and I had more time.
Since coming into the winter, trying to find time to train has been harder because I work as a gritter driver for the Council. I’d been trying to run when I should have been resting, which I think resulted in getting an illness half way through December. I wasn’t back to feeling 100% until late January. Thankfully I have come out the other side and training is now going well again. I’ve just got a few more big runs to do before the big day!
A lot of my fundraising was undertaken at my wife's family business Grendon Lakes, they hold weddings, camping and glamping. I had collection pots on the bar for guests to put lose change in and held a raffle offering a chance to win a night in one of the luxury couples tents. I sold tickets for £1 and raised a total of £500 from the pots and raffle. £2,000 seemed a lot of money to raise and I'm nearly there with help from family and friends. All I hope for on the big day is that I can do everyone who has helped and supported me proud and support a fantastic charity.
Thank you everyone!
When I was eight years old I remember joining thousands of other people lining the streets of London, waving and cheering as streams of people ran past. At the time I didn't really understand the enormity of what those people were doing, running mile after mile, some fast, some slow, some walking but all in the aim of completing 26.2 miles. Amongst those people was my Dad.
Fast forward a few years and my Dad had to take every ounce of energy he had and a hell of a lot of drugs to pull himself out of his wheelchair and slowly holding tight on to me, walk a few steps down the aisle of a church on my wedding day. He had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) the year before and had his world turned upside down. From being fit and healthy, in the Police to being forced to take early retirement and a complete change of life.
For years after I watched my Dad, I would watch the marathon on TV every year saying to myself 'one day', and since taking up running the itch has needed scratching so I decided the year I turned 40 to make my bucket list dream happen to take part in the most amazing marathon in the world.
As soon as I heard I'd been accepted to run for MS-UK I set the wheels in motion for my fundraising, looking at where I could start generating easy money with little effort whilst I planned a big fundraiser. Sponsorship started coming in as soon as I announced my challenge and as a Slimming World Consultant I have had amazing support from my members for my fundraising. I have a change pot in group and my members along with other groups in Chelmsford, Essex agreed for the next few months to have these for MS-UK. Everyone's odd 5ps, 10ps are really adding up to over £50 a month donated this way. Again members supported through donating their slimmed out of clothes which were swapped for cash and a Christmas raffle in my groups raised £284.
Michelle who runs Chelmer RoadRunners, a local running group which is where I first learned to run completing a couch to 5km course, sings in a local band and I approached her to sing at a charity night I was planning. Seen as she got me into the mess in the first place it seemed fitting to have her at the event! A local pub was the venue (free hire to maximise funds raised!) and with the fabulous entertainment, a raffle to be held. After hundreds of letters, emails and approaching local companies I managed to secure some great donated prizes and started selling raffle tickets to people who couldn't make the night, again to ensure I raised as much as possible. Promotion of the event went out on social media, posters up locally and great support from local papers - three have now printed my story to help further support!
The charity night went well, everyone had a fantastic time and most importantly a brilliant £1,186.06 was raised to bring my total fundraising over my initial aim of £2,500 - but I'm not stopping there - a sweepstake planned, further change pots and sponsorship will hopefully bring the total to £3,000, or more! Every penny will help MS-UK give amazing support to people like my Dad.
So now, the countdown is on till the big day itself where I shall be so proud to be running the same streets that my Dad did in 1986 (but not accepting his challenge of beating his time of 3 hours 35 minutes!)
My name is Rosie and I am in my second year of university, I am studying Politics at Leeds. I grew up in a very active family where Mum and Dad encouraged us to play team sports at school, took us on regular skiing holidays and liked us to push ourselves. Although not as athletically blessed as my brothers, I still took part and enjoyed every moment.
Upon arriving at university, hours spent doing physical activity dramatically dropped and by the end of my first year I knew I needed a challenge to get me going again. The Virgin Money London Marathon had always been on my agenda having watched my Mum train and run both London and New York for MS as a child and then more recently witnessed my older brother complete it. My Mum ran for multiple sclerosis for her brother who has lived with the disease for almost two decades…hence why MS-UK seemed an obvious choice for me! So one day as procrastination from some university work, I entered the ballot and applied to a couple of charities that were close to my heart, not really thinking anything would come of it. A couple of weeks later I received a call from Jenny who offered me a place for MS-UK, and I accepted it…and that is how I am here lining up to run the London Marathon!
Upon returning to university, I started my training plan…let me tell you nothing sorts out a hangover like a 5mile run in the cold! All was going well until the end of October when I started to get this searing pain in my foot every time I put it down, having ignored it for a while my friends dragged me to A&E and I heard every runners worse nightmare…you have a stress fracture. So I dutifully spent the next 7 weeks in a moonboot, doing very little and followed the doctor’s advice to the T as I returned to running. I am now well back on track, although I have to take it a little steadier than I would like, I have completed a half marathon in 2 and a half hours. I have three more long runs till the big day and the excitement is building with each week!
Finally, fundraising is going well! I have had some very generous donations from friends and family. My first sponsorship push was to write to all my Mum and Dad's suppliers and ask for donations, and golly were they charitable! Its been a busy couple of months juggling training, fundraising, university, eventing, working and maintaining some sort of social life but I wouldn’t have life any other way!
Thank you to everyone who has supported me and hopefully see you the other side of the finish line!
Back in October last year I decided to apply for the running of the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of raising money for MS-UK. It was less than a week later that I was delighted to receive the phone call that my application had been accepted.
My Mum, who has had the condition for a number of years is the reason why I am running for MS-UK.
Everybody who knows my Mum will agree, she is a completely selfless individual, always putting other people ahead of herself and has an admirable ‘just get on with it’ attitude towards her condition. By running the London Marathon for MS-UK, hopefully I am giving something back, however small it may be.
At the point of my Mum’s diagnosis, I wasn’t aware of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis nor had I heard of the condition at all, which, along with raising as much money as possible for MS-UK, is one of the main reasons I am sharing the fundraising as far and wide as possible – to raise awareness and understanding of the condition, which I know is an objective I share with the fantastic work that MS-UK undertake.
Having already raised in excess of £2,000 with over 7 weeks to go until the big day (at the time of writing this), the fundraising so far has been fantastic and has far exceeded the expectations I had. People’s kindness and generosity so far has been a huge source of motivation for those dark, freezing cold training runs which I have no doubt all the other runners for MS-UK are also enduring at the moment.
Due to the recent weather conditions and a couple of injuries, I can’t say training has been straight forward but nonetheless, remains on-track and now approaches its latter stages with a few more long runs to go, before gradually tapering the distance down as race day approaches.
A massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far, it’s hugely appreciated by my Mum, MS-UK, my family and myself. I am hoping to keep the momentum going by reaching £2,500+ by race day so please read my story and donate if you possibly can by visiting my fundraising page.
Good luck to all the other MS-UK runners with the remainder of your training and fundraising.
Thanks for taking the time to read.