Fife teenager dives in to help raise awareness of MS

Take the plunge...and raise funds for Revive MS Support with a skydive at Skydive St Andrews in Glenrothes.
Take the plunge...and raise funds for Revive MS Support with a skydive at Skydive St Andrews in Glenrothes.
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Scotland has the highest incidence of multiple sclerosis in the world, with 190 cases per 100,000 of the population – one in 500.

When you compare that to England and Wales, where it’s between 100 and 140 per 100,000, the need for help here is obvious.

I’m a bit scared but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do

Havana Clark

Which is why, during MS Awareness Week, which runs from April 27 to May 3, Revive MS Support is looking for Fife Today readers’ support.

The charity has launched #Thenextstep campaign – to raise £1.5 million in two years for a new centre in Govan.It has outgrown its Maryhill premises, and £300,000 has so far been raised.

But a charity skydive will be held at Skydive St Andrews at Fife Airport in Glenrothes to raise more.

Revive’s first partnership with the Glenrothes firm was hampered – by the weather.

Cara Doran, fundraising manager, said: “You can’t skydive in wind, rain or fog and summer 2012 was dreadful.

“Fundraisers and drivers were up and down the road to Glenrothes countless times. But the guys at Skydive St Andrews were fantastic and they finally set aside a sunny week in September for us.

“It was an amazing day, which is why we’ve decided to hold it again. We’re just hoping the weather’s better!”

Cara chose the Glenrothes company as they were happy to work with people with disabilities – three of the 10 jumpers in 2012 had MS.

Already, 10 people have signed up for the event on Sunday, June 28 – including Fife teenager Havana Clark.

She’s trying to raise the minimum £500 sponsorship.

And on Sunday, May 17 she’s hosting a charity adult and junior triples open at Markinch Bowling Club, where she is a member.

Havana (15), of Markinch, said: “My friend Nicholas’ dad (Craig Watson) has MS and we went through to the Maryhill centre to find out about it.

“I then signed up to do the jump. I’ve raised about £200 so far and £200 in sponsorship.

“Ten teams are signed up but we need another six.”

As for the jump, Havana added: “I’m a bit scared but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do – I can’t wait!”

The bowling event has a £10 entrance fee; email havanaclark55@gmail.com

Revive MS Support was founded in 1984. It is partly funded by the NHS but is a registered charity and its services are free of charge.

To find out more, email cara@revivemssupport.org.uk or call 0141 945 3344.

Sue hopes future will be better for MS sufferers

Marking MS week, the MS Society announced a further £2 million investment for the Edinburgh Centre for MS Research this week.

It will help a team of world-leading researchers at the University of Edinburgh continue their ground-breaking work into understanding the causes and mechanisms behind MS and finding ways to slow or stop disease progression.

Their crucial insights will inform treatment development and pave the way for new therapies.

Mark O’Donnell, MS Society Scotland director, said: “We know people with MS desperately want treatments that can slow, stop or reverse the effects – these world-class researchers could be pivotal in paving the way for how the condition is treated in future.

“As we mark the start of MS week, there can be no better way of showing our determination to find new treatments.”

The announcement was welcomed by Sue Polson (65), from Fife, who has secondary progressive MS; she was diagnosed aged 48.

Sue admits she “had no idea what it meant” but, within days, she couldn’t climb the stairs in her office.

Within eight months, she had given up her job and was in hospital.

Sue said: “I worked with the physiotherapist, walking between parallel bars with my wheelchair behind me in case I collapsed.

“That was the lowest point of my life.

“Spasms and bad balance are now part of my everyday life but I’m hopeful that won’t be the case for others.

“I’m convinced the future will be very different to the day I was handed the MS Society’s details and told to go back to my life!”

The MS Society is the leading MS charity in the UK.