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15 minutes with MS Trust supporters Jackie & David Middleton

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David and Jackie Middleton

Just before Christmas, David Middleton and three of his university friends set off, as the Atlantic Lions, on the voyage of a lifetime, rowing across the ocean as part of the Atlantic Challenge boat race. David’s mum, Jackie, is a longtime supporter of the MS Trust. On the eve of the race, they told us what inspired them to raise funds and why they think it’s so important to support our work.

Jackie, how did you first come across the work of the MS Trust?
JM: It was when I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. There was also a group of people fundraising for the MS Trust and we joined together and we raised money together from the mountain climbing.
What’s your experience of fundraising for the MS Trust
been like?
JM: It’s been great. The MS Trust has been so supportive. They’ve always encouraged me in everything I’ve committed to.
How did you feel when David told you he was planning to row the Atlantic?
JM: Shocked! In one word! But then very proud. And then we wanted to support him as much as we possibly could.
Now I’m feeling very excited for them. Obviously very nervous. It’s not going to be easy thinking about them in the middle of the ocean. A little boat in the big sea. But I’m immensely proud of all four of them. They’ve done incredible work to get to this stage.
Your brother Gary, who died in 2009, had MS. How do you think he would have felt about the boys’ adventure?
JM: Oh, he would have loved it! He would have been on the boat if he could. He will be up there watching and willing them all the way across. He would be so proud.
Why do you support the MS Trust?
JM: The most important thing the MS Trust does, in my eyes is support the MS specialist nurses. All my fundraising has always been to support the nurses. Without them it’s so hard. It’s such a devastating illness.
What would you say to someone who was considering fundraising?
JM: Do it. Go for it. It can be the challenge of a lifetime or a small thing. Whatever you do is something you will always be proud of.
David, how did your uncle Gary inspire you?
DM: The way he lived his life really. He moved up to the Highlands of Scotland to work as a mountain rescue serviceman and to be an engineer on the ski lift at Glencoe. He lived his life to climb mountains and
I think that’s quite inspiring. In this day and age lots of people don’t follow their dreams. And I think that’s why we’re doing this strange dream.
When you were growing up, did you connect your mum’s fundraising with your uncle Gary’s illness?
DM: Yes straight away. When I first realised he was ill, I knew what my mum was doing was amazing. Raising money for the MS Trust was helping people like my uncle live a happier life while they were ill.
What things are you most and least looking forward to about your voyage?
DM: I’m looking forward to the sunrise every morning. The night rows are something I’m not looking forward to. But to see the sun come up over the ocean every morning will be amazing. The nights and the
storms are the things I dread. It’s going to be pretty traumatic I think. But it’s something we’re going to have to overcome.

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