ME Awareness: Lockdown never kicked this ‘Go Blue for ME’ family into touch | 3 June 2020

by Tony Britton, Fundraising and PR Manager, ME Association

Lockdown left a family in the lurch when they wanted to raise money for ME research. But that didn’t deter the marvellous Pond family. 

Joey in his outsize MEA T-shirt and also with his dad in pre-lockdown and M.E. days

With 36-year-old Tom Pond shut away with four-year-old son Joey in their home in Crouch End, North London, the family couldn’t get together for a communal fundraiser. So they did the next best thing – they organised individual fundraising events from their own homes, miles away. 

Sister Charlotte Cockerill, living 45 miles away in Caterham, Surrey, ran that distance but split it into shorter, solo runs each day to comply with the early lockdown regulations – when it was all ‘Stay Home’ not ‘Stay Alert’ and hardly anyone outside politics had heard of Dominic Cummings. 

Mum Jane Soden and stepdad Des, stuck with the new social distancing rules in deepest Hampshire at Fareham, decided to get out the tandem cycle for 14-mile rides to and from Fratton Park, the home of Portsmouth FC. 

Charlotte (left) with family and friends

They kept local, they kept focused and the donations poured in. Between them, they had raised over £3,000 on their fundraising pages when I last looked. 

Pompey fan Tom, who had to give up a job he loved at a top Premier League club after he became ill with M.E., said: “Fifteen months ago I got a bug. Nothing major – I took a couple of days off work and thought that was it. Except it wasn’t! 

“Since that moment, my body has rebelled on me and the slightest over- exertion triggers a physical crash. My brain operates as if it’s stuck in jelly. My body has become a stranger that I cannot and don’t want to trust. 

“Would you take a 10-minute walk if there’s a good chance that could put you in bed for a week? And that’s the harshest, most brutal and unforgiving aspect of this illness. The fear of the unknown.” 

Jane and Des at Fratton Park, the home of Portsmouth Football Club

Charlotte, a recruitment consultant in central London, did her runs after being told to work from home. “Normally we’re a very sociable family and we visit each other the whole time. But lockdown changed everything and left Tom stranded on his own with Joey.”

Tom added: “This illness has barely been researched. It’s barely understood, This has to change. There are thousands of us who need help. We want to be able to hope again. To trust our bodies. And to no longer live in fear.”

The ME Association would like to thank the family for their support – we are immensely grateful to you as we struggle to survive in these difficult times. If you would like to contribute to Charlotte’s fundraising page, please visit it HERE.


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.

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