Guest blog: ‘It’s a severe test of skill and physical and mental stamina’ just like MS

Chris Bishop, aged 58, from Henley-on-Thames reveals why he’s taking on the cold waters of the River Thames this Easter…

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Image credit: Henley Herald

My team mate Paul Reynolds and I decided to compete in this year’s Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race to raise awareness and funds for two charities, one of which is MS-UK. We are team Forget Me Not! We both have friends and family living with multiple sclerosis (MS), so we have seen first-hand the challenges it can bring to someone’s life and that is why we decided to set our very own challenge. We will be paddling 125 miles in a Canadian Canoe or C2, while portaging 77 times over the Easter weekend, from Devizes in Wiltshire to Westminster Bridge in London. It seemed like the perfect challenge to help us raise money for and awareness of MS.

The Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race has been held annually over the Easter weekend since 1948 and this year is its 70th anniversary.

The first 52 miles are along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading, followed by 55 miles along the River Thames to Teddington. The final 17 mile section is on the tidal portion of the Thames. The race is a severe test of skill, physical and mental stamina and planning, with the unpredictable British weather adding a further challenge.

We’ve been doing lots of training and I will say that rolling an open C2 into the freezing River Thames as part of our capsize drill, when you’re nice and warm wearing your multiple layers, does take your breath away!

Our target is to raise £10,000, so if you would like to donate to our efforts please visit our Team Forget me Not for MS-UK fundraising page.


Posted in Uncategorized, MS, MS-UK, Fundraising, Charity, Website, Guest blog, London, Easter, family and MS, Donations, blogging, supporters | Leave a comment

Meet our new team members!


Here at MS-UK, we are always growing, and I’m really pleased to say that this month we have welcomed four new members of staff to the team!


Jo, Lucy, Alice and Angela

Jo is our new Trusts and Foundations Fundraiser. MS-UK is really lucky to receive funding from grants and foundations across the UK, and Jo is here to make sure we can secure even more funding!

Lucy is our new Community Fundraiser, and will be looking after the amazing people who take on a challenge in aid of MS-UK…this could be a bake sale or a skydive. Lucy is here to make sure every #TeamPurple fundraising experience is brilliant from start to finish!

Angela and Alice join the MS-UK Helpline team as MS Advisors. Our helpline supports thousands of people affected by multiple sclerosis every year, and Angela and Alice will be on hand to answer any MS queries.

I hope you’ll get to know them all in the coming months!


Sarah Wright, General Manager

Posted in blogging, Charity, Choices Leaflets, Fundraising, Helpline, Helpline Live Web Chat Service, MS, MS community, MS-UK, MS-UK Services, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fundraiser of the Month: Running the distance for mum, despite the Beast from the East!

Each month we bring you a story all about an inspiring fundraiser who is making our work possible so we can support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

This month, we’re re-visiting Matt’s story. Matt was our Fundraiser of the Month exactly two years ago (read his last adventures in that blog), and this year he was planning on running the Bath Half Marathon. However, the Beast from the East put a spanner in the works, and unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the snow. That didn’t stop Matt though…he rallied and organised his own 25k run at his local gym!

So, why did Matt want to run so badly in aid of MS-UK? Read on to find out why he wanted to go the distance for his mum, Lorraine…

Hi, my name is Matt. I’m 23 years old, I live in Marlborough, Wiltshire and I am working for the year as a Teaching Assistant and Sports Coach at St Francis Prep school, Pewsey, before I head back to the University of Gloucestershire in September to complete a ‘PGCE in Primary Education’.


I originally started my fundraising for MS charities back when I was just 17 years old by doing the Reading Half Marathon. Then I decided to really try all I could to make a difference to the lives of people who live with multiple sclerosis and pushed myself to get a place on behalf of MS-UK to run in the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon.


When I found out that I was able to run for MS-UK I was absolutely overwhelmed with excitement and pride; as I knew even then what great work MS-UK did and the difference they made to those around the UK suffering with both RR and PPMS.

Ozzy and his mum Lorraine.png

‘Here is a picture of me during the event, with my mum (the inspiration for the whole event) stood (strong) next to me :)’

Although I was undeniably nervous at the task I had set myself and challenge I had ahead of me, I knew that compared to the struggle that those suffering from MS go through day-in, day-out, I now had an opportunity to do what I could to help.

The main reason that I have such a strong interest and passion for trying to help those who suffer from MS is because it is a disease that personally affected my family.

‘Ten years ago my mum, Lorraine, was diagnosed was Primary Progressive MS. However, where in the depths of such a horrible revelation it would be easy for a person to bow down to a disease and to think that their race had been run, my mum decided to stand strong and fight PPMS head on.’

My mum is a true inspiration for me and my family, and is constantly looking for a cure or new research that could help her win this fight once and for all. Whether its researching non-biased information and advice on how to deal with Primary Progressive MS; using a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to aid in recovery; or just this year making a trip over to Serbia to ‘SwissMedica Clinic’ to undergo stem cell treatment as the next step in her fight to recovery.

‘Ten years on and my mum is still fighting.’

Having seen first-hand the struggle that those suffering from PPMS go through, I am inspired every single day by my mum and strive to do whatever I can to help in her and the thousands of others in her situation to beat this disease.

‘The reason that I continue to fundraise for MS-UK is because I know first-hand the difference that their support can make to those living with MS, and whilst much progress has been made in combating the disease, there is still a way to go.’

A real highlight in my fundraising career, which showed just how generous people can be to one another, was during my third year of university. I was the University of Gloucestershire 1st XI Men’s Hockey Captain as well as the ‘Charity and Community Engagement Officer’. I decided that we could use our last league hockey match of the season as an opportunity to raise money for a cause we held dear, as well as leaving a legacy behind to future years of fundraising and charity work throughout the university.

And so I got in touch with Swansea University and pitched the idea. I was overwhelmed by the response from them and their supporters as well as other clubs at our university that came to watch the game; people who I didn’t know, who had now found this common ground with of ‘wanting to make a difference to people’s lives’. And so we managed to raises around £500 that was then split between MS-UK and Meningitis Trust Foundation on the day.

‘It really proved to me that people who different walks of life can come together a make a positive difference.’

So, what is my latest challenge? Well, I had hoped it would be the Bath Half Marathon this February…however, the weather had other ideas! It was such a shame that the event was cancelled, but I really wanted to earn the generous donations on my fundraising page, so I organised a 25k run at Marlborough Fitness and Performance Centre (MFPC), my local gym.

On 11 March I finished the run in 1hour 56mins which I was very pleased with and EVEN more pleasingly I managed to smash my target of raising £500 and so far have raised £1,198!!!!!

Thank you to every single person who has sponsored me, you have helped me make a real difference supporting MS-UK!


Posted in blogging, Charity, Do your own thing, family and MS, Fundraiser of the month, Fundraising, Guest blog, health, MS, MS community, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Running, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disability Rights Handbook out now

Hi everyone,Ryan.png

We just wanted to let you know about this important source of information that our MS-UK Helpline team regularly uses to support the multiple sclerosis (MS) community.

The Disability Rights Handbook is a guide to benefits and services for anyone with a disability, their families, carers and advisers. It contains a wealth of information relating to the benefits system, as well as social care services and help for carers.  This guide will be relevant to many people living with MS.

Clients who use the MS-UK Helpline have let us know how valuable the information provided by our advisors is and, since a lot of that information can be found in the Disability Rights Handbook, we wanted to share it with you. If you would like to buy your own copy, you can do so on the Disability Rights UK website store.

We wanted to let you know this was available to pre-order as last year’s the handbook sold out in quite quickly!

As always, though, our MS advisors are available to listen to you, talk things through with you and keep giving you as much helpful information and support as possible.

Best wishes,


Ryan Jones

MS Advisor

Posted in benefits, blogging, Chronic illness, Diagnosis, disability, Disabled living, health, Helpline, Helpline Live Web Chat Service, MS, MS community, MS News, MS-UK, MS-UK Services, Multiple Sclerosis, Multiple Sclerosis News, neurology, Uncategorized, welfare, wellbeing, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog: In memory of Gramps

In April 2018, Laura Cassidy will be reaching the dizzy heights of 10,000 feet when she takes on a skydiving challenge to raise funds for MS-UK. In this guest blog, Laura tells us all about why this is so important to her…


‘Doing a skydive has always been the top of my bucket list, so when I finally built up the nerve, doing it for charity really was a no brainer. Being able to have this amazing experience and raise money for a great cause…how amazing!

‘I knew straight away I wanted the money to go to a multiple sclerosis (MS) charity and after doing some research MS-UK really stood out to me.

‘My Gramps suffered with MS for a long time and my only memories of him are in a wheelchair but he always had a smile on his face. The care he received was always great so I am so pleased to be able to contribute to help other people.

‘I am so overwhelmed by how much I have raised so far and am desperate to reach £1,000 by the time it comes to my jump! I’m excited about it now but when it comes down to it I think I might have to be pushed out of the plane!!

We are really pleased to say Laura has smashed her £1,000 target, but you can still donate on her JustGiving page today!

Your donations help MS-UK support even more people affected by multiple sclerosis to really make the most of today and live life to the full. Thank you!

Posted in blogging, Charity, Do your own thing, Donations, family and MS, Fundraising, Guest blog, MS, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Skydiving, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Add our 25th anniversary Twibbon today!


Hi everyone,

This year MS-UK is commemorating 25 years of supporting people affected by multiple sclerosis, and I have a fun, easy way for you to show your support and get involved!

Just add our Twibbon to your Facebook or Twitter profile picture and help us celebrate our 25th anniversary!

There are lots of other ways to support us as well, just visit our website to find out more.

Happy twibbon-ing!


Jill Purcell, Fundraising Manager

Posted in #SmileswithMyles, Charity, Fundraiser of the month, Mini Myles, MS-UK, MS-UK 25th anniversary, MS-UK Services, Multiple Sclerosis, Myles, Myles the bear, Twibbon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guest blog: How I organised a virtual race evening in aid of MS-UK!

In this guest blog, Liz Hawkins tells us all about how she organised a virtual race evening in aid of MS-UK, as part of her Virgin Money London Marathon fundraising….


So the halls booked. That was free, one of the perks of working in a school.

Now what to do.

It seemed there have been lots of quizzes recently fundraising for various charities so I wanted to do something different. One of the suggestions was a virtual race evening.

Ok what’s that?

It’s an evening of horse racing, watched on TV, races are bet on and the the race footage is shown to reveal the race and winner.

I was given the number of a man who would run the event for a fee of £200. Is it worth the money?

Well he would come along with the technology, so we would be able to all see the races, there would be race cards on the tables and he had a app on the laptop that places your bet, prints you out a betting slip and then works out the winnings. For me this was worth every penny. So race-man booked!



Do we/don’t we need a bar?

I know my audience, they would want to be able to have a drink on a Friday night and for work colleagues it was the end of term, so we are on holiday!

OK so I would need a licence to sell alcohol, simple, just fill in a lengthy form and submit to the local council, along with the correct fee, for me this was £21.

Then Christmas happened…

Following Christmas my daughter and I set up a Facebook event page and sent out invites.

On this page we were able to do reminders and I also asked for any unwanted gifts that would be suitable as raffle prizes, they came flooding in….

People that couldn’t make it to the evening, pledged money onto my JustGiving account, which I had also put into the page.

The week leading up to our race night, I hired glasses from the local supermarket, for a deposit. There would only be a cost for any breakages.

They also agreed I could return any unsold items.

So the the day of the event I collected the glasses, bought snacks and soft drinks along with alcohol.

Tony the man running the race evening arrived in plenty of time to set up. Friends helped me to set up for the raffle and the bar, ahead of my husband and friend running the bar for the evening.

Tony asked for two or three helpers who would be willing to be the tote, my daughter, her boyfriend and a friend offered to do this, so Tony took them through what they needed to do, apparently it was really easy!

All was ready when the first of our guests walked through the door, the evening was a great success, the races got everyone involved, the raffle went really well and the bar pretty much sold out!

My friends and family had a great night, but most importantly they helped me to raise a whooping £850 profit for MS-UK! With match funding of £350 I raised £1,200 – amazing!

Posted in blogging, Charity, Fundraising, Guest blog, London, Marathon, MS, MS community, MS-UK, Multiple Sclerosis, Uncategorized, Virgin Money London Marathon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment