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Take the Plunge for Multiple Sclerosis
July 17, 2015

Be thrilled by the sight of canine lifesavers in action at Portishead Quay Marina on Saturday 12th September, as a group of Newfoundland dogs jump into the Marina to put their famous life-saving skills to the test, and you could get involved.

We've teamed up with Newfound Friends to offer you the unique fundraising experience of a lifetime. You'll be whisked away from the Portishead Marina by boat and then jump into the water ready for your life saving experience. A Newfoundland dog will then be released to rescue you holding onto your life jacket and swimming you back to safety.  With a typical bodyweight of around 75-90 kilos, a double waterproof coat and a full set of webbed feet, these gentle giants are as much at home in the water as they are on dry land and their life saving skills have been commended by The Royal Life Saving Society. 

We're looking for 30 adventurous people to be rescued from the Marina by the canine lifeguards while raising vital funds for The West of England MS Therapy centre. There is a £10 registration fee and we ask that you raise a minimum of £150 in sponsorship. For those who don't fancy getting wet there will still be plenty to do with activities for the children and local stalls. Dog lovers will also be in for a treat as for the first time we will be hosting a fun dog show and agility display that your four-legged friends can get involved in.

Join us for a fantastic family day out at the Portishead Quay Marina and help us raise vital funds for the charity.

 
 
Six mountain ascents in a day for Loonies Club 'oldest British cyclist' title
May 18, 2015

A West of England MS Therapy Centre supporter plans to be the oldest British cyclist to ride six times in one day up one of cycling’s most gruelling European mountains. The ride will total 274 km (170 miles) and 8,800 m (28,871 ft) of vertical ascent – only 40 m lower than climbing Everest.

The Centre supporter, 52-year-old amateur cyclist Simon Morgan, faces the challenge of cycling six times up one of the most formidable Tour de France climbs, Mont Ventoux, on 6 July 2015. If he completes this challenge, Simon will become a member of the Mont Ventoux Loonies Club (Club Des Cingles Du Mont-Ventoux). If successful, he will become a member of the select Bicinglette group, which currently totals 103 riders of whom 13 are British.

Simon plans to raise £10,000 for the West of England MS Therapy Centre from his challenge. The Centre provides support and therapy that helps alleviate his close friend’s painful multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms. Simon’s friend is centre member Roger Forbes, whose life runs parallel to his in many ways – living in the same village and having children of the same ages. Simon’s commitment to raising funds for the Centre has been further reinforced following another close friend’s recent diagnosis of MS.

Simon’s hard work in support of his friend and his dedication to the formidable Loonies Club challenge are no mean feat. He must spend as much of his spare time on the bike as possible to increase his fitness, and estimates the challenge itself could burn 8,000­–10,000 calories. This makes optimum nutrition in training and on the day crucial to his success, explains Simon:

‘It will be essential to eat and drink regularly, regardless of whether I feel hungry or thirsty. Food will include bananas, honey and cheese sandwiches, tuck biscuits and flapjacks.'

This is not the first time Simon has faced the formidable climb. He made his first Mont Ventoux ascent 10 years ago when he re-traced the Tour de France 2000 route. He recalls the day:

'It was very painful climb on a hot day but I was hooked. It is a mountain of contrasts, with lavender fields at the base, pine forests on the flanks and then the famous lunar landscape at the top.’

Breath-taking views are not exclusive to the Alps. One of Simon's favourite cycling destinations is right here in the UK, among the Wye Valley’s beautiful scenery and hilly routes. Besides Simon’s passion for the sheer challenge of gruelling cycling routes is a quiet appreciation of the journey.

‘You can cycle with friends and enjoy the camaraderie of a group or ride on your own. On a bike you see the diverse scenery from a vantage point which has no engine noise but, due to the speed of a bike, is constantly changing.'

Cycling is a huge part of Simon's life and is the sport that inspires the most passion in him. He has immense respect for sporting hero Mark Beaumont, who held the record of cycling round the world unaided in 195 days.

Aspiring to and performing such arduous sporting challenges can take its toll. Yet, while knee and back problems have caused Simon to abandon his other sporting passions, very few issues have hampered his cycling to date. However, cycling does not come without its dangers, explains Simon:

'The most significant injury was a result of falling off my bike in heavy rain descending the Col de Bonnette in the southern Alps and narrowly missing being run over by a following car.'

On the day, Simon’s wife Emma and their daughter Tessa will drive the route to provide him with adequate food and water. In his potentially dangerous and exhausting Loony Club challenge lays Simon’s dedication to his friend and to his sport. Support him in this mammoth challenge and fundraising effort for the West of England MS Therapy Centre by donating via Simon’s Just Giving page now . 

 
 
Hard work paying off for our Marathon runner!
April 2, 2015

The London Marathon is just around the corner and we caught up with our runner, Charlie Forbes. 

In just 24 days Charlie - whose brother, Roger, is a member of the Centre - will be setting out on his herculean task of running the London Marathon to raise money for the West of England MS Therapy Centre. ​

We asked Charlie to tell us more about why he decided to tackle the London Marathon:

‘I’m running the London Marathon on the 26th April and will be raising money for the West of England MS Therapy Centre, as my brother is a member there.’

‘I’ve been prone to weight gain since I was in my late 20’s and my weight has gone up and down however, for one reason or another I had gained a little extra buoyancy.'

Not only is Charlie benefiting from training for the marathon, but it sounds like his friends and family are too!

‘I had also begun to feel some effects of carrying so much weight, it was leaving me feeling at a low ebb, tired and more irritable than normal.’​

So, Charlie is now fitter, happier and a lot less irritable than normal. However, the weight loss did not come easy and is a result of a lot of hard work and dedication. Charlie joined Slimming World as part of his training and this has meant changing his eating habits as well as a new fitness regime.

'Weight loss is 80% about what you put in your mouth and 20% to do with a healthy exercise regime.'

Charlie's new fitness regime, plus cutting out foods such as peanuts, crisps and bread has meant that he has reached his weight goal of losing 5 stone. 

Congratulations Charlie!

Just the 26.2mile run to go!

The London Marathon will take place 26th April 2015. 

There is still plenty of time to donate money for Charlie's run through his Just Giving page - Click here.

 

 
 
Local golfer triumphant after Oxygen Treatment
March 31, 2015

We continue to see many different people from the sporting world come through our doors here at the Centre; and we are pleased to say that our treatments have aided European Tour golfer, Chris Wood, recover from an injury faster than expected.

Chris is a local golfer and, like the Centre, has his roots in Nailsea, Bristol. After missing several tournaments due to the injury, he was able to compete last weekend at the Moroccan Open, where he finished joint third.

We spoke to Paul Mitchell, Wood's head coach and golf professional at Bristol and Clifton Golf Club and he was pleased to tell us of Wood's progress.

'With an intensive period of physiotherapy in January and February and multiple Oxygen Therapy sessions at the West of England MS Therapy Centre, the recovery time has been much faster than expected.’

Chris Wood had heavily bruised and broke his wrist after a fall in the gym back in November 2014. As a result of this injury it was believed that he would miss the several tournaments and not return to the green until late 2015.

 
 
Wembley hopeful looking for luck of the Irish after Oxygen Treatment.
March 19, 2015

We’re excited to see that the facilities here at the Centre are being used by many of Bristol’s finest athletes. On Saint Patrick’s Day we opened our doors to Republic of Ireland U21 and Bristol City left-back, Derrick Williams.

The Irishman, who charmed all the ladies at the Centre with his lovely accent, is part of the high-flying Bristol City side that are currently sitting 11-points clear at the top of League One. Clearly, the luck of Irish is with City at the moment as they are preparing for The Johnstone’s Paint Cup final on Sunday 22nd March.

Williams was having his second Oxygen Treatment session for a minor hamstring injury that he received during a game against fellow League One side, Gillingham. We asked Derrick how he felt being in the Oxygen tank and his thoughts about the members here at the Centre.

‘It’s very comfortable in the chamber. I’ve been here twice now and there is always a welcoming, relaxed environment. The ladies there are always very cheerful and accommodating and have helped me with my mask fitting.’

With links to Germany, USA and Ireland we were very interested to see why Williams chose to play for the Ireland and what his links are with the Emerald Isle.

‘I feel like Ireland is home to me because I was raised there really from the age of 7 to 15. I think there were massive years for my development as a person. All my friends are Irish as well, so I just feel like Ireland is home to me…that’s one of the reasons I picked Ireland.’

 Volunteers from the Centre went down to Ashton Gate on Saint Patrick’s Day to do a bucket collection and were also invited to watch Bristol City play Crewe Alexandra. It was a fantastic night on both accounts, not only did we raise money for the Charity, but our volunteers also witnessed City win 3-0!

Although, Derrick Williams did not take part in the match, he was kind enough to retweet a message before the game about our bucket collection to his many followers.

The left-back has been in Bristol now for two seasons and he told us how much he enjoyed going to Cabot Circus and relaxing down at the Harbourside.

‘I enjoy going to a few cafes. There’s a good vibe around the city, it’s really relaxed and chilled, which I enjoy.’

We hope that the Oxygen Treatment that Williams received has helped to boost his chances of playing at Wembley in the final. We would like to wish Williams and Bristol City the best of luck in their game against Walsall and hope that City travel back from the capital with some silverware!

 
 
Volunteers – what would we do without them?
December 18, 2014

In any charity, the work done by volunteers is crucial.  Nowhere is that more apparent than here at the MS Centre.  But what does it mean to be a volunteer?  What do our volunteers actually do?  Could you help us by volunteering?  Find out in our latest blog…

As we approach Christmas, what better time to say a massive THANK YOU to all our volunteers?  It’s easy to take people for granted when they are so committed to the Centre, but without them we simply couldn’t continue to operate.

Many of our volunteers have MS or another condition, so not only do they help keep the Centre running but they also make use of the facilities and treatments themselves.  With so many different roles available there is something for everyone and new volunteers are always welcome.

So what could you do?

Most of our Oxygen Chamber Operators volunteer on a regular day or half day, although there is also the option to operate just one session in a day (about 90 minutes) if you don’t have time for any more. 

Anyone who’s been to the Centre will have heard how often the telephone rings.  We have some wonderful volunteers who come in to sit on Reception and take calls - just having an extra pair of hands to take messages or greet people as they come through the door is a huge help. 

To add to this, we often have people dropping in for a look around the Centre.  Having people available to ‘Meet and Greet’ and give a quick tour is always appreciated and who better to do this than people who use the Centre themselves?   

The Kitchen area is largely self-service, but we always need a few sandwiches or drinks made for members, visitors and carers.  Plus there’s a constant stream of washing up or the emptying of the dishwasher to do, particularly with all the cakes that people kindly bake for us!

Of course, no organisation can run without support ‘behind the scenes’.  There is endless filing, phone calls to be made or simply letters write and send.  Even with computer-based systems there will always be a paper element so whether you’re computer-literate or not, there are administrative tasks to do.  From Fundraising, to the Therapy areas, to Finance and Centre Management, every department needs admin support.

Volunteering doesn’t stop at the Centre doors - Supermarket and Garden Centre collections bring a healthy income as well as raising awareness about the Centre.  While we’ve got a great group of people who go out and collect for us, we’re always looking for more – even if it’s only for an hour or so.

Finally, we would not be able to continue as a charity without Trustees.  There are currently a number of vacancies on our Board: Deputy-chair, Treasurer, Membership and Transport Secretary, and Building Management.  If you or anyone you know has expertise in these areas, please let us know.

Do come and see us if you’re interested in finding out more, or you think there is something else you could offer the Centre.  We think you’ll agree that volunteers really are the life-blood of the Centre and we are incredibly lucky to have so much support.

 

 
 
Powered by What?
June 20, 2014

The pupils at Wheatfield Primary School have taken on a challenge to ‘Grow a Pumpkin for the West of England MS Therapy Centre’. Sponsoring the event is Geneco, a Bristol based company committed to cost effective, sustainable waste recycling and renewable energy solutions. Terri McDonald, Head of Fundraising said “it was a fabulous day for the pupils of Wheatfield Primary School, learning about the work we do at the West of England MS Therapy Centre; offering treatments, therapies and support to individuals with Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological conditions throughout the region. The pupils also learnt how to grow and nurture pumpkin seedlings into winning pumpkins, a greener way of looking after our planet and a chance to see the Bio-Bug - the UK’s first VW Beetle powered by human waste in action”.

Wheatfield Primary School pupils will be entering a pumpkin from each year, the children will nurture their pumpkins with a view to making them as big as possible and raise sponsorship from family and friends for the West of England MS Therapy Centre. The pumpkins will be measured on Thursday 23rd October at the Centre.  A prize will be awarded to the largest pumpkin circumference, and the best named pumpkin and the most imaginative fancy dress costume. After the pumpkins have been measured, a chance for teachers and parents to get involved by entering into a pumpkin carving competition. 

 
 
A New Kind of Exercise Class
May 22, 2014

Every Wednesday we hold exercise classes to help our members with their balance, mobility and to maintain their fitness levels.  Normally, these are normally made up of people with a similar level of movement, balance and dexterity working individually within the class.  They are a social way to receive many of the benefits of physiotherapy as they are tailored to the group’s ability.  This week however, we held a mixed ability class, specifically to learn to play Boccia – the only Paralympic sport not to have an Olympic equivalent.

Boccia is an inclusive sport where the aim is to get your team’s balls closer to the jack than the other team’s.  You can throw, kick or even push your ball down a ramp to get it to the jack and it gets very competitive as blocking tactics come into play

Our training session began with a run-down of the rules of the game and learning how to lay out the court.  Then the fun began as the first player took hold of the jack and threw it into the playing area and played their first ball.  As each of the players took their turns, there were balls going everywhere as people got used to the way the balls rolled, after the first few balls, it started to get competitive. The first game was won by the red team (2-1), then it was time for the teams to swap over and let the spectators take part.  Having watched the first game, the second team had learnt some tricks and got a few balls a bit closer to the jack.  This time the blue team won 4-1.

After everybody had a turn, it was time for a skills session.  Dave – the trainer, pulled some hoops, skittles and cones out of his bag and scattered them around the court in the gym.  Each person was then given a ball and had to throw it in their hoop, knock their skittle down or hit the cone.  Cue the mayhem as balls were rolling everywhere, cones were knocked over, and the physiotherapists tried not to get hit by balls as they went to put the targets back together!

Playing Boccia got people working on their co-ordination and motor skills, as well as making people think about tactics and how they would play their next ball.  As it was a team game, there was a lot of chatter and laughter involved, and everyone was able to play their own part.  Boccia and the skills needed to play will be a regular part of exercise classes in the coming months, in the hope to build our very own team, who will no doubt go on to be champions if our first day is anything to go by! 

 
 
Boccia is coming to the MS Therapy Centre
May 19, 2014

2014 is the year of the Boccia World Championships, so to get into the spirit, we’re bringing Boccia to the MS Therapy Centre.

Boccia (pronounced Bot-cha) is a Paralympic sport where the aim of the game is to throw your ball as close as you can to the jack.  The game can be played individually, in pairs or teams of three. 

The game is very inclusive, as you can throw your ball, kick it, or even push it down a ramp if needed. Each side (whether it’s made up of one, two or three people) get 6 balls, for each ball that is closer to the jack than the opponents ball, you get a point.  After each round of 6 balls (or end) the teams swap direction on the rectangular court.

Like all Paralympic sports there are various classifications depending on the extent of the players’ disability, meaning everyone plays on level playing field. 

The UK are currently second in the world, and with the World Championships in Beijing this summer, there is everything to play for, to knock Thailand off the top spot. 

In the BC1 Category, the UK’s very own David Smith is top of the world rankings so hopefully he will do the UK proud at the World Championships!

The first Boccia training session will be this Wednesday (21st May) between 10.45 and 11.45.  If it’s popular, we’ll be running more training sessions, and who knows, we might produce the next UK Number One!

 
 
The Grand National of Pigeons?
April 15, 2014

April is always an exciting time for us, because it's time for Pigeon Club - The Professionals.  Our very own feathery Grand National.

The Pigeon Club is your chance to have a flutter on our feathery friends, by sponsoring one of our pigeons for just £5.  Your pigeon, who you get to name, will then battle it out with 39 others over 7 weeks until the winner is crowned.  If you have sponsored the winning pigeon then you'll win £50!  There are also prizes for the sponsors who come second and third.

You can get your pigeon from the Centre, or we can give you all the materials to run your own league at work, home or anywhere else.  Email fundraising@mstherapybristol.org.uk for more information.

There is a prize for the best pigeon name, so get your thinking caps on and get your pigeon now!

 
 
One year on as Oxygen Treatment Coordinator
April 8, 2014

Recently we caught up with Natalie Dass, our Oxygen Treatment Coordinator for our Day in the Life of feature. Natalie has just reached her one year anniversary with us so we thought we’d ask her a bit about what she has learnt over the past year at the MS Centre.

Did you know anything about MS, the Centre, or Oxygen Treatment before applying for the role?

No! My previous job, before I had my daughter, was with a large pharmaceutical company in the Communications department. I had barely any knowledge of MS at all – the only thing I had ever seen in relation to it was on the TV show ‘The West Wing’. I had heard about Oxygen Treatment but only in relation to diving.

Obviously, before I applied for the role and came for an interview I did some research into MS and had a look on the Centre website. With my background in pharmaceuticals, as well as having a father who is an holistic therapist, I actually had more knowledge of the other therapies offered at the Centre than of the Oxygen Treatment.

So you’ve had to learn about Oxygen Treatment from scratch?

There is plenty of literature out there about Oxygen Treatment and I was lucky to have Keith, our Senior Operator, on hand to tell me all about the ‘technical’ aspects of the treatment. In addition, we’re fortunate to have a link with some experts in the field of Oxygen Treatment and I’ve had many conversations with them during the course of the year. I don’t think I’ll ever know everything there is to know but I’m doing my best!

And what about MS?

Again, I tried to learn as much as possible about MS before I started. But as I soon discovered, you can read all the books and papers in the world but there is nothing that will teach you more about a condition like MS than speaking to the people who live with it every day. Books don’t really tell you about the real life impact, the variation from person to person, the way different people at different points of their journey deal with different things and, especially, the speed at which things can change for people with MS – one day feeling ‘normal’ and the next being bedridden with fatigue, or having their eyesight deteriorate overnight.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned over the past year is that I can talk to people all day, every day, but I can never truly understand what it is to have MS, because I don’t have it. That’s why I think the Centre is so great – it allows people to help themselves, giving them at least some control over a condition that would otherwise be entirely out of their control.

What is your favourite thing about the Centre and your role?

I’m a ‘people person’ so I enjoy being able to interact with lots of different people, and the Centre gives me the chance to do that. No day is ever the same - some days are challenging, when you see a person struggling with their symptoms or a newly diagnosed member trying to come to terms with the condition. But the positivity of people here shines through. I’ve made some great friends here and there aren’t many people who say they genuinely love the job they do and can see the direct impact it has on people’s lives. So I count my lucky stars that I get to work in such a great place!

 
 
Physiotherapy is a lot like Kerplunk!
March 27, 2014

Mary-Jane, our Lead Physiotherapist regularly talks about Kerplunk with her clients. So, we asked her why!

Kerplunk - For those who do not know the game it is a plastic tower with lots of holes through which plastic sticks are placed to hold marbles on top. The aim of the game is to remove the sticks one at a time and not allow the marbles to fall to the bottom. Frequently a number of sticks are removed without any marbles dropping but then 1 vital stick is removed and the marbles all come crashing down. I can hear you say "Why is Mary-Jane talking about this?"

Well I use this analogy frequently as a physiotherapist when talking to people of all ages and all walks of life whether they are carers, volunteers, staff or clients. We all have bad habits e.g. poor posture or we repeatedly move objects in a way that could possibly injure us. We may have small injuries causing us to slightly change our way of doing things which may include the use of trick movements but essentially we continue as we were, not addressing the problem. We think we have got away with it until we lift something again and our bodies are badly injured and are not able to adopt further coping strategies. At this point we look for help to address these problems.

For people who have a neurological condition they may be aware that their walking, balance or fitness may not be as good as it was, or their fatigue is increasing but decide to do nothing about it for whatever reason. It may be because they are busy at work or trying to keep abreast of everyday life. By having a physiotherapy assessment early and addressing the problems this may help to reduce longer term knock on effects.

Specialist physiotherapy available at the Centre helps to maintain and improve patterns of movement and balance. We give one to one physiotherapy and lead exercise classes, which bring many of the same benefits as one to one physiotherapy but are much more social and fun. There are a range of classes for varying levels of movement and ability, currently held on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Centre.

So if you have MS or other neurological condition, remember that by asking for help early on it may reduce the longer term knock on effects. Come in to the physiotherapy gym and see what equipment we have and what we do.

Don't let yourself go Kerplunk!

 
 
Running the Bath Half Marathon
March 14, 2014

Dane and his sister Nicole ran the Bath Half Marathon to raise money for the MS Therapy Centre.  Julie, their mum, is one of the physiotherapists at the Centre, so they know all about the work that we do and how much of a difference we make to people living with MS.

We asked Dane to tell us a little more about the run, and how they ended up running as the men from 118 118,

I can’t remember signing up for the Bath Half. As for agreeing to run it with my sister, Nicole, dressed as everyone’s favourite long-distance runners turned phone switchboard advertisers ‘118 118’, I’ve no idea how that came about. I think it had something to do with our Mum, Julie Kerkin’s, forceful coercion (press-ganging) and positive reinforcement that the MS Therapy Centre does fantastic work helping those affected by this condition get the treatment and support they need.

The build-up to the big day consisted of the odd scattering of training runs through Bristol (avoiding the rain), online outfit purchasing and last minute refreshes of BBC Weather for the Bath area in the hope a full sun would appear out of nowhere in the 11th hour.

Come race day my sister and I met up in the centre of Bath to compare our outfits and head to the starting line. Sporting the trademark white vests, dark perms and thick moustaches and in spite of the dreary weather and embarrassingly short shorts we were both buzzing; there was a fantastic sense of nervous expectation and excitement in the Runner’s Village.

After the slow amble with the throng to the start line it was a relief to get started! The crowds were fantastic and provided huge support, high fives and cries of “Got your number!” virtually the entire length of the circuit.

The Bath route is an intimate race, with a winding course through the historic centre causing bottlenecks, however I found this of help in setting a steady pace and when the half way mark came round and the volume of runners lifted I felt ready to bring it home and go up a gear.

And then on the final corner, an act of divine coincidence; I pulled up alongside another poor soul, bedecked in mock wig, moustache and the exact same torturous, unflattering shorts. We smiled, embraced and finished the final 100 metres side-by-side with the crowd’s cheers ringing in our ears. A fitting end to a fantastic day in the service of a great cause.

Dane and Nicole have raised £340, if you would like to support them, you can do so by going to www.justgiving.com/thekerkins.

 
 
A Day in the Life of: Natalie Dass, Oxygen Treatment Coordinator
March 5, 2014

In this monthly feature we'll be finding out a bit more about everyone at the Centre and what they do.  First up, it's Natalie Dass, the Oxygen Treatment Coordinator here at the MS Therapy Centre. She started working at the Centre in April 2013 on a part-time basis and has since become an integral part of the team. But what is an Oxygen Treatment Coordinator? And what does she actually do all day?! Our latest blog gives an insight.

On a Wednesday I work a full day, so my first job is to check the answer phone for anybody calling in sick, be they volunteers or members coming in for a treatment. This treatment is mostly run by volunteers, so if someone is ill then it is my job to phone around and find cover for them from our trusty bank of volunteers. I then switch the oxygen tank on and get things ready for the first treatment session at 9.00.

I’ve got a new member coming in at 10 for an assessmnent, so I make sure I'm up to date with their notes and put the kettle on! I enjoy these assessments as it’s a chance to get to know someone in a quiet and confidential space. We find out about them, any needs they have (physically and emotionally), their medication and what they are like as a person.

Today’s new member has only recently been diagnosed so has lots of questions about their MS and the treatments on offer, which I answer and provide some reassurance to her. I know it will be easier for her next time she comes in because she’s met me now and knows what to expect.

After that it’s a quick check of the emails, there’s one from an amateur boxer who wants to come and have some oxygen treatment to heal an injury he’s sustained. We do quite a lot of work with sportsmen, both amateur and professional. Oxygen treatment gets them back into training weeks after an injury rather than months.

Then, I’m into preparing for our treatment catch up with our lead physiotherapist.  This can cover anything from a new policy or procedure to an individual’s declining health. It can be hard to discuss this in such a formal way, but we know that we’ve helped to slow a decline, and it’s how we provide such great care and support.

Lunchtime is suddenly upon us, so I grab a quick bite to eat with some of the other staff, before checking the diary to see who is booked in tomorrow and if there is anything I need to be aware of.

As I walk back through the Centre I see one of the members who hasn’t been in for a few weeks, so it’s a good chance to catch up with them, see how they are and if they are struggling with anything – emotionally, physically or otherwise. I like to have these chats as it gives them chance to talk about their MS, but I also find the positivity and friendliness inspiring!

During the afternoon I run one of the treatment sessions (it’s important for me to keep my hand in) and read up on some of the latest research into oxygen treatment.

It’s then back to the desk to find an email from someone who wants to start volunteering for us, before finishing off some of the day’s admin tasks and writing this post!

Thank you Natalie!  Next month we'll be finding out a little more about one of our members and volunteers!

 
 
Volunteers Needed to Abseil the Gorge
February 26, 2014

Set yourself a challenge this spring and abseil the Avon Gorge on Saturday 26th April for the MS Therapy Centre.

Carol took part last year, and had this to say: “It was a fantastic experience, I was so nervous to start with – I’m petrified of heights, but once I had started I really enjoyed it.”

“You get a great view of the Avon Gorge and Suspension Bridge while you’re abseiling, one that you wouldn’t get any other way! I raised over £1,000 by taking part in the abseil, knowing how much that money would help people really helped me lean back over the edge. I just had to think “I can do this”, and now I know I can!

”In raising money for the MS Therapy Centre, you will be helping people to live with the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis or another condition. These other conditions can include Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and ME/CFS.

Every £20 that you raise could fund an oxygen treatment, to help reduce swelling, pain and cognitive problems. To Abseil the Gorge, simply click here, to go through to the registration page on our website.

 

 
 
Roger has had MS for 20 years - see how it has changed his life
February 19, 2014

Roger was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis when he was 24. His symptoms came on suddenly, and he knew very little about the condition before he was diagnosed. By coming to the Centre he has slowed down the progression of his MS and learned a lot more about it.

Getting Diagnosed

I was diagnosed in 1994, I had recently graduated and had just got married. I was working on site as a Building Surveyor when suddenly my eyesight started to go very blurry. I went to the opticians, who referred me to the Doctors. My Doctor then sent me for some tests, including a lumbar puncture and an MRI. It was soon confirmed that I had MS. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I did know that it didn’t sound great.

Living with MS

17 years on and life has changed. Although I have a lovely wife and two healthy boys I can no longer work. Being out on site all day was not sustainable and although the company I worked for were very supportive giving me a job in the office – eventually the fatigue, the vision and the mobility got the better of me and just before I was 40 I had to retire from work.

Not only has this been hard for me going from being an active member of a work team to being at home each day unable to drive, it is also hard on the rest of the family who have to support me. We all have our ups and downs but we make it through with laughs and tears.

It’s made me realize you have to make the most out of the life you’re given and appreciate every single day.

My main symptoms now are still blurred vision, chronic fatigue and my mobility has become very poor. I walk with a stick and use a mobility scooter to get around now as I am no longer able to drive.

Coming to the MS Therapy Centre

I visit the West of England MS Centre twice a week for physiotherapy and oxygen treatment.

The oxygen helps me manage my fatigue and the physio helps my mobility – it’s a constant battle but if I did not have these treatments my deterioration would be quicker.  The occasional times I have missed the oxygen therapy I can feel a real difference in my fatigue levels so this is a real lifeline each week.

Meeting others

The Centre also provides a great place for meeting others in a similar situation. It can be quite scary as there are others who are far worse than I am but seeing and speaking with them helps you to come to terms with the condition as much as you can.

The Centre acts as a lifeline to me. It helps me meet others and the treatments it offers are extremely important for managing MS. You have to try to make the most out of life – you only get one chance.

 
 
Training for the Avenger Triathlon
February 19, 2014

Hannah Kennard and Dan Pursall are twins who have always had a passion for sports. Together they are taking on the Avenger Triathlon to raise money for the MS Therapy Centre. Here Hannah talks about the challenge they are taking on.

Hello,

I’m Hannah, my brother Dan and I will be running the Avenger Triathlon on 22nd June to raise money for The West of England MS Therapy Centre. We have always been sporty, but never done a challenge as big as this before. We’ll be swimming 1.2 miles, then cycling 56 miles and finished with a 13.1 mile run. I’ve done a shorter Sprint Triathlon before and this is much tougher, but Dan hasn’t even done one of those. So we’ll both be new to this challenge!

We’re taking part to raise money for our sister who goes to the Centre each week to help with her MS. She has physiotherapy and oxygen treatment there, so it’s a cause close to our hearts. Knowing that every penny that we raise is going to a fantastic local cause, to help not just our sister but other people who use the Centre too is really keeping us motivated.

We’re training 10 times a week at the moment, it’s a very structured training plan, split between swimming, cycling and running. We’re swimming in a pool at the moment, even though it’s a lake swim. Once the weather turns, we’ll be out in a lake as it’s very different from swimming in a pool, and we need to get used to it before we meet hundreds of others in there!

It can be hard to keep motivated in this weather, gale force winds and heavy down pours are doing their best to persuade us inside, but knowing that it is all worth it for such a fantastic cause, and not letting down those who have already donated keeps us lacing our trainers up!

That will keep us going on the day as well. We’ll be looking at each element separately and tick each bit off in our heads as we complete each leg. But I am really looking forward to that finish line!

I’ll sign off by saying a massive thank you to everyone who is supporting us and have made a donation. Also to my husband Andy and Dan’s girlfriend Anna, who are supporting us and putting up with the amount of training hours we have to put in!

If you would like to sponsor us, our sponsor pages are www.justgiving.com/Hannah-Kennard or http://www.justgiving.com/Dan-Pursall

 
 
Bristol Junior Lawyers go the extra mile to support the MS Therapy Centre
February 19, 2014

Sophie-Jennifer Pyle is Trainee Legal Executive at Burges Salmon LLP, and also the Charity Liaison Officer for Bristol Junior Lawyers, a group who take an active role in the legal community and wider community.

This year, Bristol Junior Lawyers have chosen The West of England MS Therapy Centre as their charity of the year. We asked Sophie-Jennifer to tell us a little more.

Why did you choose to raise money for the MS Therapy Centre?

The MS Therapy Centre is an incredible organisation, providing key services to people who really need them. The work that the MS Therapy Centre does is invaluable and Bristol Junior Lawyers is proud to support them.

Bristol Junior Lawyers support different charities each year, but have you done anything like this before?

I’ve done some fundraising for other charities in the past, however, this is the first time I’ve been really involved in the organisational and fundraising aspects. This is also the first time I have trained for a 10k run. The furthest I’ve ever run is the 2 minutes from my office to the train station! However, in the name of charity I am doing an abseil, the 10k and a skydive – all of which is really out of my comfort zone!

It’s a huge challenge, but one which is worthwhile. The sense of achievement when I have completed my tasks will be that bit greater because I know the money raised will be used to help people live normal lives and give them back their confidence.

The Bristol 10k on the 11th May is the second part of your fundraising triple header. How is your training going?

I’m training twice a week at the moment, both in the gym and on the roads. I’m a keen gym goer anyway, but I’ definitely not a runner! I’m managing 7.30-8minute miles at the gym at the moment, which I’m really pleased with, however, road running is an entirely different animal and so I would be pleased at being able to just finish! In fact, I’d be delighted with that!

Throughout the year, Bristol Junior Lawyers will be doing lots of fundraising and getting to know much more about our work. Is there anything that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Gaining a real understanding of the challenge faced by those with MS and their families has been, and will be, a key driving force in my fundraising. The thing I look forward to mostly is developing a strong partnership so that we can work together and raise as much money as possible.

Of course it’s not just you fundraising for the Centre, some of your colleagues are getting involved too, aren’t they?

Yes, I’m very grateful to Helen Row, who is running the 10k, doing the abseil and skydiving with me! I’m not sure how I talked her into this frankly, but I am thrilled that I won’t be plunging out of a plane, or hanging from a rock alone! My secretary Kirby Duddridge has also agreed to run the Bristol 10k and has managed to rope her friend Vicki Fairchild in too. We are all committed to raising as much as possible and let everyone know about this cause. I am also grateful to Rebecca Lewis, who’ll be wearing the MS Therapy vest when she runs the 10k too.

Finally, the Bristol Junior Lawyer Committee is doing a wonderful job letting people know about the partnership, updating our network about fundraising events and my progress as I train for these mad events! With BJL it’s a team effort and we hope that our network will come out and support our fundraising efforts in the coming months.

You’ll obviously be very busy over the next few months, how can people support you and the Junior Lawyers in your fundraising?

The best way to sponsor myself and my band of merry chaps is to log on to: www.justgiving.com/SJPMSTHerapy - please give generously, it’s appreciated!

Thank you very much Sophie-Jennifer, be sure to keep in touch, and we’ll be back to see how you’re getting along later in the year.

 
 
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