Tony Britton, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.
Our loyal band of supporters have been pulling out all the stops to help the ME Association through these difficult times – and keeping their own ambitions alive. Here are two of their stories.
SARAH ELSBY from Bolton, Greater Manchester
The penny dropped as she was driving down the M5 to Cornwall on Monday to begin the first of six sponsored walks for the ME Association.
“Cornwall’s my favourite place in the world but it suddenly dawned on me that the locals won’t want me down there at the present time. In fact, they probably don’t want to see any visitors at all.
“So I turned round and came straight back home” said 41-year-old Sarah Elsby, who had hoped to have walked the 24 miles between Padstow and Newquay by now.
Sarah arrived back in Bolton only hours before the Prime Minister locked down the nation on Monday evening.
She took a job as a postwoman two years ago to be near her
mum, Lynn, who has been very poorly with M.E for about 20 years.
Posties can carry on during the coronavirus crisis as essential workers and Sarah has certainly been kept very busy as she visits the 1,000 homes on her round in Westhoughton.
“It’s crazy at the moment, as busy as Christmas. The van is filled up with so many parcels you can hardly see out the back and I’m also looking after a third of a round for someone else who’s had to go off sick,” she said.
“We’re dropping parcels off on people’s doorsteps, knocking on the door and we have instructions to then stand back and wait to make sure they are picked up. But customers don’t need to sign for their parcels anymore.”
Before joining the Post Office, Sarah was a tax inspector who worked up to 60 hours a week managing a 130-person litigation unit for HMRC which involved travel throughout the UK. It was tiring work and kept her away from her family.
On her JustGiving fundraising page, Sarah outlines her mum’s continuing battle with M.E. and says she’s now got the time to combine northern grit with her love of hiking and trekking to raise shedloads of money for the cause.
She was in college when her mother, who is now 62, met her stepdad. The new couple played badminton, went for walks in the great outdoors and honeymooned at Ingleton in the Yorkshire Dales, taking in a long walk past the waterfalls.
“After a few years, she had a son – my younger brother Lewis – but became ill while he was in junior school.
“Suddenly, she had no energy at all. His school was only a five-minute walk from home but, having delivered him safely there in a morning, she would spend the rest of the day distraught and panicked, wondering how she would physically be able to summon up enough energy to collect him in the afternoon.
“That short morning walk left her zapped of all energy, in pain and physically incapable of moving. She didn’t understand what was happening to her body.”
It took several years, and the arrival of many other symptoms, before Lynn was able to obtain a diagnosis of M.E. and of course, as now she’s vulnerable to many infections, she and husband Brian are in 12 weeks' self-isolation – with Sarah doing their shopping.
Sarah has six ME Association sponsored walks in her sights: Padstow to Newquay, Brixham to Dartmouth in Devon, Snowdon (up and down the mountain not once but twice), Anglesey (still to sort out the exact route), Filey to Scarborough in North Yorkshire, and then – in special tribute to her mum Lynn’s second marriage – to Ingleton, so she can feast her eyes on the majesty of those waterfalls.
She hopes to get out and about as soon as the health crisis clears. If you would like to cheer Sarah on her way, please donate to her fundraising page on JustGiving.
ANITA WALTON from Hinckley, Leicestershire
Huge-hearted Anita Walton, a seasoned fundraiser for the MEA Ramsay Research Fund, stepped up quick as a flash when she found out that her next race – this month’s London Landmarks Half Marathon – had been postponed.
Instead of joining 15,000 others in the race through central London on 29th March, she ran the distance SOLO at the weekend. Anita, who works as an accountant, ran one mile round Burbage Common, off the B4668 near Hinckley, and then took to the road to finish.
“Have you any idea how hard it is to run a half marathon on your own?” she asks on her fundraising page. “It’s nuts! No crowds cheering. No Hi-Fives. No jelly babies. I didn’t tell anyone. I just did it!
“Off-roading across Burbage Common was hilarious. I was up to my ankles in mud and, when I lost my water bottle for a while, I had to go back to find it. The sun shone and it felt good to be out in the fresh air in such a crazy world.
To pop some money into Anita’s fundraising account, please visit her JustGiving page.
“It took nearly 20 years to get my life back from M.E. and medical research is desperately needed for those still suffering. So please donate and Hi-Five my 600 miles of training!”
Members of ‘Team MEA' in the postponed London Landmarks Half Marathon – all 19 of them – have all been offered either an alternative date on a day to be fixed or the chance to run the event solo in their own neighbourhoods. Once either option has been completed, they qualify for their LLHM 2020 medal.
Help and Support
How you choose to help the ME Association is entirely up to you, and we are incredibly grateful for any support you can provide.
Contact our Fundraising Manager, Tony Britton, if you want to discuss any fundraising ideas or require support for your event. Telephone: 01406 370293 or 07946 760811 or via Email.
The ME Association
Please support our vital work
We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.
If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, advocate and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.
Just click the image opposite or visit our JustGiving page for one-off donations or to establish a regular payment. You can even establish your own fundraising event.
ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279