The MND Association AGM was extra special for me this year as it makes a full year since I was nominated to be a trustee for the Association. I have now done a full round of Board Meetings, Committee meetings and project task group meetings.
Why go to the AGM?
The AGM is a place to meet up with old and new friends, other volunteers and staff from our MND community, together with exhibitors and speakers.
I find that there is always something new to learn, whether it is from another Branch or Group, or finding out about the research being done, or the equipment on offer. One big hit was the virtual reality headsets which Mark, my husband tried out. One was a general virtual reality demonstrating all of its features including being in a helicopter, in a hot air balloon and giving lots of different views and landscapes. He particularly enjoyed the car racing around the Le Mans circuit.
I attended a workshop around Legacy Fundraising which was one aspect of the Association’s work that I knew little about.
Even if you can’t attend to you can follow the event Live on Facebook and it is always nice hearing the messages read out from those back at home, watching the event unfold. Here’s the link to this year’s AGM and research speech. https://www.mndassociation.org/videos/
The afternoon speaker was Professor Martin Turner who was there to speak about his bio -marker research at Oxford. Something close to my heart. I have been part of that research, sitting in multiple scanners for many hours as a healthy control for Professor Turner’s research. I was very interested to hear how that particular research was going.
On Sunday 1st July, MNDA East Kent entered a team in the KM Charity Group Dragon Boat Race. Our team was made up of members of the Lawrence family from Folkestone. The team were entered into three races, impressively winning two and coming second in the third race.
In our final race, we were pitched head to head with the team from MNDA Mid Kent, who were the fastest team on the day. It was a very close race, we managed to beat Mid Kent but due to their faster times in earlier races they went through to the finals. Congratulations to the team of MNDA Mid Kent!
The East Kent Group met on Saturday for an open meeting for people living with MND, their carers, friends, family and volunteers.
We had 23 attend in all and we had the honour of a visit from Councillor Colin Spooner The Sheriff of Canterbury, who addressed the meeting. Huge thanks to Colin for making the time in his busy schedule to visit with us.
Other contributors were Chairman Clive Hudson who spoke briefly about fund raising plans; Judy Keay who spoke about our Association Visitors; Lynn Hudson who spoke about our monthly Tea by the Sea meetings and finally Katy Styles who updated us on current campaigning activity.
We enjoyed sandwiches and cake prepared by the committee members and lots of warm hearted and friendly conversation.
Some time ago, when I started to look around for some voluntary work I decided to become involved with MNDA. Initially I joined the committee in East Kent and then trained as an Association Visitor (AV)…starting in 2016. Talking to people I have met since becoming involved with MNDA East Kent I have been struck by the resilience and tenacity that many of these folks show…some are people living with the disease, others are relatives, carers or friends of theirs. A common factor shown by so many is that of supporting each other in the face of this vile and debilitating disease.
The camaraderie I have witnessed first hand is incredible, many form friendships…co-supporting each other and sharing ideas and treatment options. Some have set up fund raising initiatives, and I am aware that quite a number use the network of social media to keep in touch, some are happy to have an Association Visitor offering friendship and support, and some like to attend meetings…networking with others facing similar difficulties. It’s so rewarding to work together with these people and I really enjoy doing so.
One of the many challenges facing PwMND is the gradual reduction of their own physical abilities meaning that activities which were easy for them previously become difficult or indeed impossible. It means that travelling options are very restricted, they may no longer be able to drive, and public transport options may well be very limited. Many of the support activities in East Kent are centred around Canterbury or Ashford…. which means an almost impossible trek for many living in the rural or coastal areas of Kent, such as Thanet. Several voiced their disappointment at not being able to attend these meetings without supreme efforts by themselves and their carers.
Upon discussion about these difficulties with the MNDA East Kent committee we decided to offer for a trial period, of three months, a Thanet based support group, meeting once a month in the afternoon in a suitably placed venue, and one which offered many appropriate facilities.
Several options for a venue were explored. We decided on The Botany Bay Hotel in Kingsgate which is ideally situated for all of Thanet, with plenty of parking, access and facilities are excellent. The manager and staff are extremely helpful and willing to accommodate us. Our trial period starting in September 2017, on the last Wednesday of each month from 3pm until 5pm, and we call it Tea by the Sea!!
We contacted many people by telephone and email to invite them to come. We offer tea or coffee with cake or scones, and have been delighted at the response. Each meeting has been attended by PwMND, families and carers. These are small meetings, but so friendly, everyone getting to know each other, sharing experiences, frustrations and coping mechanisms in a spirit of camaraderie and friendship. The hotel has allowed us to use a small private function room for no extra charge, all we pay for is the tea and cake consumed. The first meeting was attended by eight people, subsequently the attendance varied from 16 down to four (the weather was typically coastal atrocious that day!!)
The trial period of three months ended in November, but by popular request was extended to include December and will now continue into 2018, on the last Wednesday of each month. The next dates are as follows:
Wed July 25th and Wed August 29th all between 3 and 5pm.
Botany Bay Hotel, Marine Drive, Kingsgate, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 3LG
Please make a note of these dates. You can be sure of a warm welcome, and the refreshments are pretty good too!!
Silence Speaks is the Association’s activity to raise awareness of speech loss in over 80 % of people living with MND. During October people take up the challenge of raising awareness of the issue by running a variety of events, these include sponsored silences, silent discos, silent quizzes and lots more.
Chrissie Batts, East Kent Hospital Trust’s Specialist Nurse undertakes outreach to hospital
staff at all three trust hospitals to raise awareness of the support people living with MND will need with their carers should they attend or stay in hospital.
As part of this programme, Chrissie together with Judy Keay, Association Visitor Coordinator and Katy and Mark Styles went to the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate on Friday 20th October to explain about motor neurone disease but with the added pressure of doing this silently. These awareness activities are held weekly within all three hospitals and staff from all departments are encouraged to pop in and see the presentations on those days.
Together Chrissie, Judy, Mark and Katy had downloaded type to speech apps on iPhones and iPads, creating key phrases to explain what we were doing and what help people in hospital with MND many need. We used pads and pens, laminated letter sheets and pre-printed leaflets from the Association.
We met staff from all different departments with very different duties who were all very interested to learn about speech loss in MND. Staff said that as we were not speaking it made them not want to speak. Others commented that it was really important to highlight this issue and asked what they could do to support someone with MND.
During the session, Katy Styles awarded Chrissie with an MND Association Extra Mile Award
for her dedication to supporting the people living with MND in East Kent. Extra Mile awards are awarded to staff who have gone above and beyond to support people living with MND, their families and carers. Katy had pre-recorded a short speech to explain to Chrissie why she was receiving the Award. The Chief Nurse, from the East Kent Hospital University and Foundation Trust, Sally Smith attended the presentation and congratulated Chrissie.
We had a good attendance at our latest monthly support meeting which was held at Thanington, Canterbury on October 14th.
We heard a presentation from Dawn Cockburn and Julie Murby of the Harmony Therapy Trust. A charity who provide NHS approved therapies to patients living with life limiting or debilitating diseases, including MND.
We heard that Harmony Therapy Trust is run entirely by volunteers. The charity is based on the Isle of Sheppey however, they have expanded their services to cover the whole of Kent.
The charity can provide up to 6 sessions of therapy to persons who would be expected to benefit from the therapy. Therapies are only provided following medical referral.
Harmony Therapy Trust can provide a range of therapies including acupressure, aromatherapy, counselling/talking therapies, healing/reiki, holistic massage, hypnotherapy, ibx nail treatment, indian head massage, osteopathy, reflexology and reflexology lymphatic drainage.