Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis moved into its own premises in Westlea on 22 January, after a marathon four years of planning and fundraising to the tune of £850,000.
“It really is a dream-come-true,” said chairman David Wray. “Considering that the organisation was close to folding in 2003, we’ve come much further than anybody could have expected.”
The spur to look for new premises came when the Hong Kong based Bradbury Foundation agreed to grant £250,000 to the centre and the Moving Soon Appeal was launched in the January 2008 Link.
The new centre located in the old Farepak Hamper's office building on Westmead Drive is named Bradbury House and provides much easier access from all parts of town with disabled parking right outside the front door.
The centrepiece is a new purpose-built compression chamber costing £100,000, divided into two compartments to provide oxygen therapy at different pressures. Breathing oxygen is beneficial to people with MS and many other neurological conditions, including stroke, brain injury and autism.
There were tears of joy on 21 January when the 8.5 ton tank arrived and gently craned into position and manfully pushed into a new extension to Bradbury House. Holding back the sobs, MS Centre trustee and holistic therapist Viv Wise, said, "it is just so wonderful, it's what we've working so hard for. This will provide so much relief to people with MS and other neurological conditions"
Rose Fisher, middle photo below, watching the tank being edged into position from her wheelchair that she's had to use for eight years, was also moved to tears. "I've used oxygen for about four years, doing two sessions a week. Breathing oxygen under pressure helps give me more energy. I'm also a diabetic and it keeps my blood sugar levels more constant.
"This new tank is going to be so good for users. Up to now I've had to transfer from my electric wheelchair into a small one to get in. This tank allows me to drive straight in; it will me so much more independence."
The new building also provides much more space for users to receive physiotherapy, Pilates, Indian head and full body massage, reflexology, reiki and aromatherapy, as well as dietary advice.
The centre receives no NHS funding and relies solely on fundraising for day to day activities, so taking on the challenge of raising £850,000 in capital and doubling running costs is a major commitment said David. “We’ve recently been awarded £200,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to enable us to extend our physiotherapy and Pilates services for our members over the next 5 years.”
The centre is the only one in the region which offers oxygen therapy for children. One family from Wales regularly makes the trip to Swindon in order for their child to be treated.
David said, “we’re lucky to have the expertise to meet all the requirements and have been treating children since 2008. The new centre allows us to help more families.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank businesses, the local Rotary Clubs and the people of Swindon and the surrounding areas for their fantastic backing and hope they will continue to support us.
“Bradbury House is a wonderful facility which will serve people who will sadly succomb to MS and other conditions. We couldn’t be where we are today without the fabulous help of our members and the local community, and continuous publicity from Swindon Link.
“It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point, and we will be relying on our members’ fabulous fundraising efforts more than ever to keep the centre up and running in its new home.”
Find out how to help Swindon's MS therapy centre at: www.msswindon.org.uk