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Could you be an MS Trust sofa superstar on #GivingTuesday?

2nd December 2014 by Shan Teo

Could you be an MS Trust sofa superstar?If you haven’t already noticed, today is the first official UK Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday is a campaign that began a few years ago in the US, as an antidote to the Christmas shopping season, which traditionally begins for Americans on the Friday after Thanksgiving at the end of November.

Since then the idea has spread around the world, and this year charities across the UK are taking part for the first time, offering people a remedy to Christmas spending, and reminding people of the  good causes that need support.

Of course in the bleak UK midwinter, fundraising might be the furthest thing from your mind. Does the thought of running a 5K makes you reach for the ice cream bowl and the remote control? Does a a coffee morning or cake sale sound like a smashing idea… until you remember last night’s burnt cheese on toast?

Don’t worry! At the MS Trust we love everyone who wants to help. It’s never been easier to support our work, so here are three ideas that you can do from the comfort of your own sofa!

  1. Affiliate shopping – Do you do a lot of your shopping online, on websites such as Amazon, Sainsbury’s or Debenhams? Did you know we offer affiliate shopping with them, which means you do your shopping as you usually would do using a link on our website and, hey presto!, we get a percentage of what you spend, but to no extra cost to you! Easy peasy!
  2. Raise awareness online. Are you on Twitter or Facebook? If you are, please like our Facebook page and follow our Twitter account. Then you can help us share and retweet our MS-related posts. There are over 100,000 people in the UK living with MS and we would love to reach all of them and let them know about the work of the MS Trust. To do this we need your help!
  3. Spread some festive cheer by buying and sending MS Trust Christmas cards and ecards. Christmas cards were central to the founding of the MS Trust and are still play a vital part in funding our crucial work. This year we have a particularly good selection – and remember 100 per cent of profits go funding our work!

And  if you’re already thinking ahead and planning on some more energetic activities for the new year, why not check out our full range of events for 2015?

Fundraiser Chris prepares to cycle from California to Colorado

28th November 2014 by laura.percival

Inspired by his mother who has MS, Chris Orfeur has decided to take part in a mammoth cycling challenge across the rugged American West to raise funds for the MS Trust. Here he tells us more about taking on the Race Across the West.

Chris Orfeur

In June 2015 I will be flying to Oceanside, California to compete in a solo bicycle race that is 860 miles long. This distance has to be completed in just 90hrs. The route runs across the west of America through four states, ending in Durango, Colorado.

I’ll be looking to ride my bicycle for 18 to 20 hours a day to cover the distance in good time, trying to average 300 miles a day. But I will not be alone on the road as I’ll have a race crew following behind me in a camper van. The crew will be made up of my closest friends who will have various roles such as catering, orienteering and more importantly comedy value!!

I’ve always enjoyed my cycling, having gone on bicycle tours around Europe where I’ve climbed in both the Alps and the Pyrenees, but those tours have been at a more sedate pace where finding the most scenic spot to stop and cook some lunch is my main priority.

I have had some experience taking on challenges such as charity runs and bicycle rides before, but nothing of this magnitude or intensity.

Why did I choose the MS Trust? Well, to be brief, in 2007 my mum’s life completely changed when she was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. So after seeing how much a person’s life can change in a moment I thought it was best I put being a young keen cyclist to good use and raised money for a charity close to my heart!

Visit Chris’s fundraising page on Virgin Money Giving

Loom bands in MS Trust colours

18th November 2014 by laura.percival

Fiona Grant from Cambridge tells us why she has decided to make loom bands to help support the work of the MS Trust.

Described by The Mirror as the tween craze that became a must-have fashion accessory, and spotted on the arm of more than the odd celebrity, loom bands have become increasingly popular. Their prevalence inspired me to make these friendship style bracelets, which can be worn by men, women and children, in MS Trust colours.

I wanted to raise awareness of MS and the work of the MS Trust. My Dad was diagnosed a few years ago now and currently lives with secondary progressive MS. He is very impressed with the work of the MS Trust and offers them financial support. I, too, would like to show my support for the valuable services the MS Trust provides.

I hope my loom bands will be seen as a stylistic alternative to the official MS Trust wristband. Similarly I hope they will serve the purpose of raising both money and awareness. 100% of proceeds go to the MS Trust. While there are only 30 loom bands currently available on my ebay listing I pledge to make more if demand dictates.

Visit Fiona’s ebay shop to buy a loom band for just 99p (plus P&P)

Loom band on wrist Three loom bands

The Reindeer Rally Run and more fundraising ideas

13th November 2014 by Nicola Pates

Reindeer Run poster

Are you a teacher, Brown Owl, Scout Leader or parent? We are looking for schools or groups to get involved this winter in the MS Trust’s first Reindeer Rally.

The Reindeer Rally is a great way for young children to get involved in raising money for the MS Trust. When you sign up you will receive a free fundraising kit which includes a reindeer mask for each child to design and wear for a short sponsored race.

It’s up to you when you decide to hold your Reindeer Rally. Race day will involve the children wearing their masks while taking part in either a short sponsored run or an obstacle course – the choice is yours! The children will use the sponsorship forms provided to raise money for the MS Trust.

To order your free fundraising kit which includes a reindeer mask for each child, sponsor forms, balloons, posters and a copy of our Kids’ guide to MS, please visit mstrust.org.uk/reindeer, email fundraising@mstrust.org.uk or call 01462 476707. GO REINDEERS GO!

More fundraising ideas…

There are loads of ways you can get involved and support our work helping everyone affected by MS. Here are just a few ideas. To find out more visit mstrust.org.uk/fundraising or call 01462 476707

Send MS Trust Christmas cards

MS Trust Christmas cards are on sale now with fantastic new designs to choose from. Every card you send helps to raise awareness of MS and the MS Trust.

DIFC Santa Run, London

Dress up in your free Santa suit and run, jog, walk or use your wheelchair or scooter to get around the 5km or 10km route in Victoria Park on 7 December.

Monster Ski, Chamonix

Ski or snowboard the height of Mount Everest every day in our exclusive Monster Ski challenge, taking place from 13–17 March 2015.

London to Paris Cycle Ride

Cycling through beautiful English villages and into the stunning countryside of rural France will be an experience you will never forget. Various dates available for rides in 2015.

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

Cycle 100 miles on closed roads from London to Surrey on 2 August 2015. This event is getting bigger and better every year so get on your bike and join in!

British 10K runners share their experiences

3rd November 2014 by laura.percival

The British 10K London Run on 12 July 2015 may seem like a long way away, but at the MS Trust we are offering a discounted registration fee of £15 until the end of December 2014. Now is the perfect time to sign up and start your fundraising and training early!

In 2014 we had 73 runners raise a fantastic £26,000 for the MS Trust. Amongst them we had Jordan Walker, Michael Murphy with his two sons Jack and James, and Jenna Ritsema who share their experiences below of running for the MS Trust.

Jordan Walker

Jordan Walker: “I did it for my dad”

I would be lying if I said that I signed up to the British 10K London Run just to raise awareness and money for the MS Trust. I did it for my dad. My dad has MS and his strength and determination make me so proud. He, like most people with MS, has good and bad days. Lucky for me, most of mine are good, so running a few miles to help raise money for a charity that helps people like my dad was simple. I was shocked and overwhelmed by the amount of money I raised. The run itself was challenging but the atmosphere and the spectators kept me going. I made it to the finish line with my dad and family in view cheering me on! I will never forget that moment, plus the London sights are an added bonus. My medal is a constant reminder of the fact I did something to help, no matter how big or small… I did it!

James, Jack and Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy: “It was all very uplifting”

My two sons Jack (15) and James (19) and I had a great time running the British 10K for the MS Trust. You have to be a minimum of 15 years old to do the run and, as it happened, it was Jack’s 15th birthday on the day of the run! Surely an opportunity for him not to miss.

When I say ‘run’, it was more like a gentle jog for James. I thought I was running, but it was slow enough for James to call his mates and catch up with them en route! I did laugh but I was also concentrating on not falling over. My left leg starts to drag after about a mile or so and my balance gets progressively worse but I didn’t slip over once! The whole route was lined with spectators cheering us on. It was all very uplifting.

There were loads of charities represented and I saw a fair number running for the MS Trust. I would definitely recommend it. Central London without the traffic – how often do you see that?! And we all felt great afterwards. I lost a couple of pounds, got a bit fitter and we raised a few quid as well! Lots of our family came to watch and we celebrated Jack’s birthday afterwards. It was a fantastic day all round!

Jenna Ritsema and her mum

Jenna Ritsema: “I really enjoyed running for the MS Trust”

I ran the British 10K London to raise money for The MS Trust who have supported my mum who was diagnosed in 2011. The help they give is amazing and they should be supported in every way possible for the work they do for people. They have been brilliant since day one for my mum and they haven’t stopped since! I really enjoyed running for the MS Trust because they helped with training plans, cheered you round the route and even provided sandwiches after the race! I can’t urge you enough to give back and be part of The MS Trust 2015 team! Thank you to everyone at The MS Trust!

If you would like to take part in the 2015 British 10K London Run, visit our website to register now for just £15

Getting ready to ride to the Alps

15th September 2014 by laura.percival

Paul Markham and Barry Jordan

Paul Markham and two friends will be cycling from London to Courchevel this month to raise funds for the MS Trust. Paul tells us here why he has chosen to take on this challenge.

I work in the ski industry for a company called Supertravel and spend some of each winter in the Alps. I’ve been talking about riding my bike from London to Courchevel in the French Alps for charity for about four years now, but each year things didn’t quite work out. It’s the company’s 50th birthday this winter so it kind of made sense for us to aim for this year.

I’ve managed to talk two others, Fred Wakefield and Barry Jordan, into the ride and we have two support drivers, Clive and Christine Chappe. We are going to ride the 650 miles in nine days ending in an HC (super category) climb to Courchevel 1850 which they have used in the Tour de France – basically a steep mountain that lasts 15 miles!

We were looking for a charity to support that meant something to us, something that we knew would help. I remember my dad telling me that he had bumped into a school friend of mine and that he was shocked to find out that she had MS. We connected through facebook a while later and I have kept up with her blog over recent years. It was difficult taking in how the condition had affected the girl who used to live on my street, the girl who used to run around my parents’ garden.

I think it’s made us realise that the challenge we will have riding the nine days is small compared to the challenges that people with MS face each day. So at the moment whilst we are dealing with sore legs and a sore bum, that’s our motivation to keep going. We’ve been doing rides of up to 85 miles, including a couple of rides in the Alps. Putting in nine days of that kind of distance is going to be the hard part, but what would be the fun if it was easy?!

Visit Paul’s fundraising page

Photo L to R: Paul Markham and Barry Jordan

Selling my artwork to raise funds and awareness of MS

9th September 2014 by laura.percival

Jill Heaps with artwork

Artist Jill Heaps tells us how she has adapted the way she works since being diagnosed with MS, and why she has decided to sell her own artworks to help raise funds for the MS Trust.

I started scribbling from an early age, very often on things I shouldn’t have, much to my mother’s dismay. I was good at crafty subjects at school and the first memory I have of drawing was in primary school when I got a gold star for a series of drawings of birds in flight. Although I did art at senior school it remained a hobby – I would draw celebrities that I liked. After starting work I enrolled at night school and got my O-level in Art – otherwise I am self taught.

Time went by and I continued to draw and paint various subjects while working, first as a clerical assistant then in an IT section. I had always had a love of animals and the countryside and wanted to capture these subjects in my artwork – I had seen wonderful work by artists like David Shepherd. I experimented with various techniques and studied books and video tapes, even talked to several professional artists, some of whom became good friends, and eventually I got it right. This led to having entries accepted for PAWS (Paint a Wildlife Subject), National Exhibition of Wildlife Art and also commissions for Pet Portraits.

I was very happy doing this but after a while I found I couldn’t concentrate as much and I was having trouble holding the pencils while I did the fine detail that made up the fur or feathers. Overall I was getting tired very easily but put it down to a stressful job. Then one day I felt a bit tingly down my left arm and numb on my side which got worse. I couldn’t walk straight and felt very strange.

I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in June 2008. It has affected the hand/arm I use most and my concentration amongst many other things including walking and balance. Some days I feel so tired I can hardly eat. I did not know what to expect at the time of diagnosis. I had heard of MS briefly and could only see wheelchairs and paralysis in the future – I was scared, very scared. The MS Trust website came to the rescue. It had lots of answers, contacts and links to a forum that I joined where I talked to others, many in a worse state than me, who helped and supported me and still do today. I don’t know how my husband and myself would have got through without it. My MS has recently got worse and now I have spasms in my legs, but I’m getting through with the help of a specialist MS Nurse and Physiotherapist who would not be there if it wasn’t for organisations like the MS Trust.

This is why I now try to help raise funds and awareness of MS and the MS Trust. They are needed every day to help support people like me. I have entered pictures into the Secret Art Show for the last four years and I have now launched a Facebook page to show the world my other work – old and new, before and after diagnosis – and to help raise funds and awareness about this secretive disease.

Although I cannot do the detail in my artwork in the same way, it has opened a new door showing me how I can work in other looser ways with paint and brushes instead of pencils, and it is refreshing. I also paint gardens and views. Last year I moved from an urban environment to the countryside, so now I have no shortage of subjects. Now the question is what to paint first.

My page is updated every now and then with news and new pictures. Please take a look, I hope you like it. I am also hoping to have an exhibition of my work sometime to help raise awareness of MS. I will continue to enter the MS Trust’s Secret Art Show each year and help support the good work that they do. Maybe one day there will be a cure.

Many of Jill’s artworks are available to buy in aid of the MS Trust: visit Jill’s Facebook page to view and buy her work

Bandit Robin Marigold Geraniums

A ski trip with a difference: Sarah’s Monster Ski experience

28th August 2014 by laura.percival

Sarah Burgess

As we look forward to the next Monster Ski in March 2015, Sarah Burgess who took part in this year’s ski challenge in Chamonix tells us what it was like to be part of this unique fundraising event.

As soon as I heard about Monster Ski I knew I wanted to take part! I am an avid skier, and the challenge of skiing the equivalent vertical descent of Mount Everest for three days in a row sounded just awesome! A little daunting, perhaps, but surely the chance of a lifetime. The MS Trust is a charity close to my heart – my husband was diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS about six years ago – so I didn’t hesitate to sign up!

The first challenge

The first part of the challenge was the fundraising, although it was actually a lot easier than I expected. I found it helped to break it down into smaller chunks, that way it didn’t seem so daunting. I did all the obvious things first – set up my fundraising page with Virgin Money Giving (which was actually really simple), then set about emailing all my friends, family and colleagues, linking in with my Facebook account, and generally badgering people!

Then I planned a series of fundraising events. We held a party on bonfire night, sold Christmas cards, did a collection in the local pub and made cakes. The single most successful event for me was a pub quiz – in addition to the funds raised through selling tickets, we held a raffle on the night and ended up raising over £500. Plus it was great fun! As long as you give yourself plenty of time, and plan events that you (and your friends) enjoy, it is surprisingly achievable.

Excitement kicked in

I have to admit to being a little apprehensive when I first arrived at Heathrow Airport, not knowing anyone or what to expect, but as soon as we all started arriving, swapping stories and getting to know each other, any trepidation rapidly vanished and excitement kicked in!

We were very well looked after the entire time. On arrival in Geneva we were met and quickly transferred to our hotel in Chamonix, which couldn’t have been better placed, right in the centre of town. I found myself sharing a room with another solo female participant, and we were both ecstatic to walk out onto our balcony and see the most amazing view of Mont Blanc!

The group comprised a complete mixture of people, some travelling together, some alone, many with personal links to MS (including one amazing guy who has MS himself and completed the entire challenge – probably skiing quicker than anyone else in the group). Despite the various different backgrounds, the group gelled incredibly well and many new friendships were made.

We skied from first lift to last

The three days of skiing were full-on and exhausting – certainly a challenge, and one which wasn’t made any easier by the slushy spring snow conditions. We split into two groups with Beatrice and Fred, our lovely ESF guides, and they monitored our progress to ensure we all covered the required vertical distance. Lunch and loo stops were speedy, and we literally skied from first to last lift each of the three days!

Other than one minor injury (a slight altercation with a snowboarder!), we all survived intact, and on the last evening were presented with our ‘awards’!

The trip was jam-packed from start to finish, with no time for Glühwein stops or sunbathing! Having said that though, the camaraderie was excellent and everyone returned home feeling accomplished and proud of our achievements. Some people added on a few days at the end, for a more leisurely experience of the Chamonix slopes – certainly a good idea if time permits, particularly if it is your only ski trip of the season.

I would certainly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a ski trip with a difference – pushing yourself to the limit on the slopes, whilst at the same time raising money for a great cause – what could be better?!

The MS Trust is now taking bookings for the next Monster Ski event, which will take place back in Chamonix from 13-17 March 2015. You can register before 8 September at the earlybird rate of just £99, then after that for £150. Find out more about Monster Ski and book your place

Monster Ski group

Monster Ski 2014 group

Ben’s Five in Five fundraiser

26th August 2014 by laura.percival

Ben Naughton

On 30 August, Ben Naughton (pictured right) will be taking on his first of five events to raise money for the MS Trust. Starting with the Rubicon Half Iron Man, Ben will complete five events in just five weeks! He is also taking on the Coniston Chill Swim (5.25 miles), Marathon Row at Cross Fit HG3, London to Paris cycle ride and finishing with the Berlin Marathon on 28 September. Here Ben tells us why he is taking on these incredible challenges.

I’m fundraising for my close friend James Al-Mudallal and to raise awareness about the condition he has suddenly developed.

James was diagnosed, out of the blue, with multiple sclerosis in 2013 at the age of just 23. He was working as a journalist for Trinity Mirror group in Cardiff, writing for Western Mail, South Wales Echo and Wales on Sunday. Since the diagnosis his life has dramatically changed, being back at the family home in London, surrounded by his close friends and family who are providing him with the support that he needs on a daily basis.

I met James whilst at Newcastle University and with his infectious character, he usually leaves a lasting impression on anyone he encounters. We lived together for four years, became gym partners, played football together and cooked a few odd dodgy meals, so it’s fair to say that he has and will continue to be a huge part of my life. James is one of life’s good ones, genuinely one of the kindest and most down to earth people you could ever want to meet. This is all in aid of him and others who are living with multiple sclerosis.

These five challenges represent a short journey for me, but just the beginning for James on his road to recovery.

Find out more about Ben’s events on his Five in Five blog

Sponsor Ben on Justgiving

Get involved!

7th August 2014 by Nicola Pates

There are loads of ways you can get involved and support our work helping everyone affected by MS. Here are just a few ideas. 

Two Santa Runners

DIFC Santa Run

Run, jog, walk or use your wheelchair or scooter around London’s Victoria Park on 7 December! This is a great accessible event for all the family and there’s a free Santa suit for every entrant!
Find out more about the DIFC Santa Run

Monster Ski, Chamonix

Ski or snowboard the height of Mount Everest every day in our Monster Ski challenge, taking place from 13–17 March 2015. There’s an early
bird discount until 8 September!
Find out more about Monster Ski 

London Marathon

If you are looking for a place or if you have a place and would like to run for the MS Trust on 26 April 2015, please get in touch.
Find out more about the London Marathon

Three chances to join our cycle team!

Two cyclists from the MS Trust 3 Cities bike ride

London to Paris Cycle Ride

Take part in this classic cycle challenge from 20 to 24 May 2015 in aid of the MS Trust (other dates available).
Find out more about the London to Paris Cycle Ride

3 Cities Cycle Ride

Cycle from London to Brussels via Amsterdam from 27 to 31 May 2015 (other dates available).
Find out more about the 3 Cities Cycle Ride

Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

Cycle 100 miles on closed roads from London to Surrey in August 2015 (date tbc).
Find out more about the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100

To find out more about supporting the work of the MS Trust call 01462 476707 or visit our fundraising pages.
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