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Running the Greater Manchester Marathon for Emma

23rd March 2015 by laura.percival

Teressa Longhurst

Teressa Longhurst (pictured right) will be running the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon on 19 April in memory of her friend Emma Farley who had multiple sclerosis. Here she tells us why she is taking on this challenge and raising money for the MS Trust.

As a general rule I do these events for a bit of fun but having recently lost a very caring friend Emma, I wanted to run the marathon in her memory and raise money to help other people who have this awful disease. It’s been a few years since I last ran a whole marathon (2010 to be exact) and I am very nervous about running this one.

It’s been a physical struggle as I’ve had a few injuries that have set me back and I no longer run the kind of distances I used to run. However I am looking forward to race day even though I am feeling unprepared, but knowing that I am doing it for Emma will help get me around.

Emma was a very kind person who always tried to help people, even when she was poorly herself. She was much loved and taken from her family far too soon. Emma and I shared a love of animals, which is one of the reasons why supporting the MS Trust was important to me. They do so much good work and do not support or fund animal testing.

The MS Trust vision is to make a real difference for people with MS through the provision of information and professional education, by funding practical research and by campaigning for the improvement of MS services. They work to the highest possible standards and actively seek opportunities to work with other organisations to provide real benefit for people with MS.

It will be a great honour to be able to complete the marathon for Emma and other people who have multiple sclerosis.

Visit Teressa’s online fundraising page

Monster Ski in Chamonix: a truly humbling experience

20th March 2015 by laura.percival

Snowboarder Ben Rogers and his friend Phil Draper signed up for our 2015 Monster Ski challenge because they believe that ‘life’s a game to be played, life’s a challenge to be met and life’s an opportunity to be captured’. Here Ben shares his experience of snowboarding 90,000 vertical feet in Chamonix to raise funds to support people living with MS.

Monster Ski group

Months of excitement and anticipation had brought us to this moment. It was Friday morning at Heathrow airport and we were all meeting for the first time ready for the Monster Ski Challenge. Before we knew it we were checked in and heading towards our destination, Geneva airport.

We arrived in Geneva greeted by glorious sunshine and ready for our expedition. Drew, the driver of our airport transfer van, took us through picture perfect scenery in the French valley and then the imposing snow topped mountains appeared.

We reached Chamonix at 2pm and had plenty of down time to unwind and get to know the area. The views were amazing, however the -20 wind chill was a stark shock from the mild temperatures in the valley!

In the evening we were briefed on the challenge ahead. We all met at 6pm for welcome drinks at the hotel bar, introduced ourselves to each other, then listened to the briefing from the ESF instructors. Afterwards, we enjoyed an evening meal and had an early night ready for the challenge the next day.

The Monster Ski challenge begins in Les Houches

Day one of the challenge had arrived and a big breakfast was in order to fuel us up ready for the day ahead! At 8:40am we met at the bus stop and made our way to Les Houches. The instructors took us straight up the Télécabine du Prarion, where we got our ski legs and were split into two groups.

Tom Humpage, a professional photographer, also joined us for the morning. However, he had such a great time he stayed with us for the whole day! He took some great photos of the group, he’s a really talented photographer and snowboarder!

Monster Ski selfie

We made ten full descents of the mountain to reach our 30,000ft target for the day, mainly skiing the black Kandahar piste – a fast tree lined run through the forest at the base of Mont Blanc. The day started with firm pistes until the afternoon when conditions had become slushy making the descent much more of a challenge!

We stopped for lunch after eight descents at a picturesque restaurant with stunning views of the mountains, including the glorious imposing Mont Blanc. We met with the other Monster Skiers for a quick pit stop, refuelling for the final two descents of the day, and completed the day’s challenge at around 4pm.

Day two and another 30,000 vertical feet

Day two started again at 8:40am at the bus stop and we decided to return to Les Houches. It was another nice day, but a bit cooler and cloudier giving us much better ski conditions than the previous morning. We made the most of the conditions and rode hard in the morning to try and beat the afternoon slush!

After lunch we made our way to the other side of the mountain, St Gervais before heading back to Les Houches for the final descent of the day which was very slushy, but was also great fun jumping over the mounds of snow that had accumulated.

Heading to Les Grands Montets for the final day

The final day of the challenge arrived. We met at the bus stop and decided to head to the notorious Les Grands Montets to make our final 30,000ft decent. It was very windy and overcast in Chamonix and we were quite apprehensive as to what the conditions would be like up the mountain. The ski bus was extremely crowded and it seemed like quite a long journey heading up the windy roads!

We arrived and took the Plan Joran and Bochard gondolas up to just under 3,000 metres where it was lightly snowing and pretty windy too. Visibility reduced throughout the day and the snowfall become heavier until we reached the mid station where it brightened up a little.

In a chair lift

We made six descents to reach the 30,000ft target, five before lunch and one in the afternoon. After having our final lunch together on the mountain we made our final run to complete our three day challenge. We regrouped at the bottom of the Grands Montets and thanked the instructors, Beatrice and Manu for their excellent guidance.

The Monster Ski awards!

In the evening we met at Bar’d Up for a presentation by Russell Hardy, Monster Skier and former Chair of Trustees at the MS Trust, where we were all given an award.

The ‘Burning the wick at both ends’ award was handed to Matt as he was able to stay out all night and ski hard all day. Robbie won the ‘King of speed’ award for reaching a top speed of over 68mph. ‘Mr Calm’ award went to Max for his calm approach despite not having skied for a number of years.

‘Father figure of the trip’ went to David, who could always be relied on for his level headed decisions. ‘Funny guy award’ was given to Neil – he had a great sense of humour and kept everyone smiling. ‘King of the mountain’ went to Mark who was never phased and skied hard all day long!

The ‘Beer monster’ award went to Joff, who also carried round a handy hip flask always full of marmalade vodka. ‘Mother of the slope’ went to Emma who was always looking out for everyone and making sure everyone was OK. The ‘Queen of organisation’ award went to Vicky from Ski Independence – without her planning the trip would not have gone as smoothly as it did.

The ‘Loudest snorer’ award went to Les – as a result of his snoring we ended up with a lodger in our room (Sorry Les!). The ‘Cool guy’ award went to Phil – no matter how hard the going got he was always smiling at the bottom of the slope. The ‘Inspirational person of the trip’ went to Ben H, for shredding hard and completing the challenge, showing great determination to not let MS hold him back (legend!).

Monster Skiers having dinner

‘My hotel is better than yours’ award went to Mark G who had booked his own accommodation – we realised he did have a point though when he showed us how good his hotel’s menu was! The ‘Technology’ award went to me, probably because I constantly had a GoPro camera stuck to my head! Recognition also goes out to Russell who is a great ambassador for the MS Trust (and a great skier!)

We then went to La Boccalette for our final evening meal together and congratulated each other before a few final well eared beers in the bar to complete our trip!

A truly humbling experience

For me the whole experience of fundraising, learning about MS and meeting people who suffer in various ways has been a truly humbling experience and will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thank you to everyone who helped organise this amazing event and congratulations to everyone who participated for your fantastic achievements.

Here is a link to a short video of our trip and to those of you who are thinking of taking on the Monster Ski challenge in the future, DO IT!

Until next time…

Visit Ben and Phil’s online fundraising page

Find out more about the MS Trust’s Monster Ski challenge

Ten years with MS and running 500km

15th March 2015 by laura.percival

Debbie and Joe Worthington

Debbie Worthington tells us how taking on a challenge to run 500km this year with her husband in aid of the MS Trust has helped her come to terms with her own MS diagnosis.

This year my husband Joe and I have set ourselves the challenge to run 500k in timed runs and raise £10,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust. Looking back, I’m not sure how it’s all come about, but I think I’ll blame the ladies in the MS Trust tent at the Great North Run last year!

So why running, the MS Trust and a £10,000 target? This year it’ll be ten years since I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Although I know I’ve been really lucky, I also know that it’s only in the last 6 months since deciding to take on the challenge that I’ve really come to terms with that diagnosis and felt confident enough to “go public”.

I started following a diet that minimises the amount of saturated fat I eat a couple of years ago and saw the benefits almost immediately. Having more energy was one, so I thought I’d try out Joe’s hobby after getting a bit fed up of being a spectator! I went for my first (very slow and very short) run a year ago and ran my first 10km after four months of training.

I’ve really been bitten by the running bug and ten years on from my diagnosis I decided that it was time for us to set ourselves a challenge and say thank you for the support I’ve received. The MS Trust is a great charity that makes a difference to so many people’s lives. I credit the unbiased information provided by the MS Trust, and the training for the specialist nurses that keep an eye on me, as the reason I can take on this challenge!

Now I’m getting ready to run over 150k in organised events, working up to my first half marathon – The Great North Run in September. Joe has been running a lot longer than me and so it is only fair that he runs further! He will be running over 350k, including three marathons and the Yorkshire 3 Peaks.

We’ve already got 35k under our belts from our regular Saturday morning parkruns. In March we’ll be running the Lincoln 10k and will be doing races in England, Scotland and Wales over the coming months. The highlight of the year will be in July when 20 of our friends and family join us to simultaneously run the Leeds 10k and British 10k in London on my birthday!

We’d love you to follow our journey on Facebook or on our Worthington 500k Challenge website. You can also sponsor us on our fundraising page.

Life doesn’t stop with MS: Everest by motorbike

5th March 2015 by laura.percival

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In September 2015 Tony King from Dorset, who was diagnosed with MS in 2010, will be taking part in a motorcycle tour over the Tibetan plateau. He hopes to achieve a lifelong dream by riding to Everest Base Camp.

Tony started riding motorbikes at the age of seven. Encouraged by his dad and elder brother he was competing in local trials by the time he was eleven. This meant that he was competing on the same routes as adults and was nicknamed ‘Nipper’ because he was the youngest at these events.

Tony and his dad toured the UK taking part in trials across the country. He competed in nationals, local events and also the Scottish Six Day Trial (SSDT) at Fort William.

With the start of the new millennium Tony took up a new challenge – enduros, which are long-distance cross-country competitions. For ten years he competed at both national and local levels. But 2008 saw Tony back up in Scotland for the SSDT at the age of 40. He had made a promise to himself and he completed the trial, despite not having competed in trials for a number of years.

Diagnosis of MS

In 2010 problems with vision, together with some balance issues, led to a diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). Twelve years previously Tony had had some difficulties, but nothing had been identified. Following the death of his father and with this diagnosis he decided to go back to trials. Competing at a lower level than previously, he is still able to ‘twist a throttle’. Tony is currently having a relapse with double vision so is using an eye patch to help him maneuver through the markers.

During this time Tony continued riding on the road. With a group of friends he’s spent a number of holidays exploring the winding bends of the French Alps. Also, with his very understanding wife as pillion, a trip through scenic France to the Pyrenees visiting the famous Col de Tourmalet.

Currently Tony has five bikes, a variety of on and off road, all of which are being ridden. He has a Ducati Hypermotard, Montessa 4RT 260 and a Gas Gas EC300. His 1972 Ducati Scrambler is an ongoing renovation project, but is also a great local ride with 1,000 km on the clock this year. He also has a Honda TLM 260R, which is a work in progress – Tony has sourced many original parts and continues to compete at local events on this bike. He enjoys perfecting his bikes, making titanium exhausts and spindles, taking as much weight out as he can.

Following a dream

Everest has been a lifelong fascination for Tony. He has explored different ways to visit Base Camp, but with the difficulties of Tony’s MS, trekking wasn’t an option. Finding Extreme Bike Tours is a perfect solution. This year’s trip will be a chance to realise a lifelong dream and show that life doesn’t stop with MS. It will also raise funds for the MS Trust, who provide help and support to people with MS.

“None of this would be possible without the support of my wife, Fiona” said Tony. “We are a great team and to be able to go to Everest Base Camp, on a Royal Enfield, with Fiona as pillion is fantastic.” Tony and Fiona met in 2004 and married in Dubai in 2008. Fiona has always been interested in bikes, riding pillion with her dad, but never a rider herself. Her grandfather was a motorcycle courier in World War 2. Tony said, “I would also like to thank Zander from Extreme Bike Tours for his help and support with helping me to achieve my lifelong dream.”

Visit Tony’s online fundraising page

tony-king

Running in memory of Janet

10th February 2015 by laura.percival

Team of runners in MS Trust T-shirts

Kelvin Bird tells us why he and group of his friends have decided to raise money for the MS Trust by running 10 miles from Hungerford to Newbury.

On the 16th of October 2013 Janet Ricca sadly passed away following a long battle against multiple sclerosis. She was a loving caring person who always loved a game of Bingo on a Friday night. Family was always her thing, no matter how bad she got she always had a smile on her face which would light up the room and make everyone else smile. She was such a strong person who would fight with such courage and determination. I am so proud to have known someone like her and she is sadly missed by all her friends and family.

In honour of Janet Ricca I have decided to do another fundraising run so I have organised one on the 29th of March 2015. I am going to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust by doing a 10 mile run from Hungerford to Newbury. I promise with all my heart that I will be strong and complete the run. In November 2013 we did the same run and raised more than £1,500, so this year we would love to raise more for MS. With the help of Hayden Ricca, Liam Kumar, Edward Bird, Aaron Bone, Gavin Mosdell and David Fisher, I am hoping to raise in the region of £2,500.

Visit the team’s online fundraising page

Climbing a mountain for MS

30th January 2015 by laura.percival

Jo Fielder

After multiple sclerosis almost took away her ability to walk last year, Jo Fielder has now set herself the challenge of climbing Mount Snowdon. And she wants to raise at least £2,000 for the MS Trust in the process.

About a year ago, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I was in a lot of pain, one side of my body had gone almost completely numb, I could hardly walk down the garden let alone up a mountain and I was petrified. This lasted for five months. After a month of respite I had another relapse and was told my MS was rapidly evolving. Mentally, I froze with fear. I was put on a powerful drug therapy which has helped enormously and my MS has largely been in remission for the last four months or so.

Knowledge is power apparently but there was little information available to help me understand my condition. Until I found the MS Trust. If I hadn’t found them, I would still be utterly flummoxed by this hugely complicated disease. Me, my friends and family are much better informed thanks to the work that they do.

MS changed my life, almost overnight. I had to give up my career, learn to cope with a whole range of weird and wonderful symptoms and completely change my outlook on life. I have a drip fed drug infusion every month to keep me on the straight and narrow and that is really starting to have some effect.

Over the past year however, my legs have developed an intermittent fault. Some days they’re completely fine, other days they feel like they’re filled with concrete and won’t work properly. They don’t feel like my legs anymore even though they look the same. This scares the living daylights out of me so I have decided to make the most of them while I can! They may never get any worse but who knows what tomorrow brings – I certainly don’t! I just feel very lucky to still be mobile when so many other MSers that I meet no longer have that luxury.

Climbing Snowdon might not sound like a huge challenge to a lot of you but I remember the days last year when a trip to the washing line looked like a marathon – trust me, this is a huge deal! I just hope that May 16th is a ‘good day’!

Find out more and sponsor Jo on her Justgiving page

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!