Over 200 members, families, supporters and VIPs came together for a party on 6 July to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the award winning Swindon Therapy Centre for Multiple Sclerosis.
Starting as a small diet and exercise group for people with MS in 1981, the charity now has 360 members, sixty regular volunteers and its own premises in West Swindon where a purpose made oxygen pressure tank is located.
Cutting the celebration cake, chairman David Wray,centre manager Jackie Wray and High Sheriff of Wiltshire William Wyldbore-Smith, Eric Hawker, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Mayor of Swindon Nick Martin
Over 6,000 oxygen and physiotherapy sessions are provided each year without any NHS funding. The annual running costs are met by member contributions for therapies, a £37,000 Big Lottery grant, and fundraising events.
Last Autumn the centre was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteer groups and four users and volunteers were invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party on 6 June.
Jackie Wray, who has suffered from MS since 1993, said there were only 34 members when she became centre manager in 2004. “The party was a lovely opportunity for everybody involved in the centre to celebrate how far we’ve come together.
“Everybody comments on the friendly family atmosphere we have; it’s so important that we retain that into the future.”
Barry Palmer said he had been a therapy centre user for over 15 years, although the MS symptoms started in 1986 and forced him to leave work in 1993. “I’ve been coming to the centre every week to use all the facilities. My type of MS means it gets worse very slowly. I use the oxygen chamber and have regular physio to keep me stretched out.
"It would be easy to become a couch potato and a burden on others but the centre is a lifeline to keep me as fit as I can be.”
Above, Barry, left, with Jackie and David Wray, Robert Buckland MP, deputy centre manager Louise Walker and Phylis Palmer
Below, the MS Centre human fruit machine fundraiser. Kate Morrison, left, tries to win a prize from Helen Gray and Bill and Audrey Baines
The centre was first located in Fernham, near Faringdon, before moving to BSS House in Cheney Manor which became too small to offer the range of therapies needed to benefit members.
After a huge fundraising drive and securing a mortgage the charity moved to Bradbury House on Westmead Drive in 2010 after a complete refurbishment, much of it undertaken by volunteers.
A bespoke 12 seater oxygen chamber with two compartments operating at different hyperbaric pressures was also installed.
The centres offers physiotherapy and exercise regimes, a range of complementary treatments and oxygen therapy as well as advice and information.
It also assists people suffering from other neurological conditions, such as brain injury, strokes, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Oxygen therapy is also offered to sports men and women who want tissue to knit more quickly after injury.
The anniversary party was organised by volunteers from Zurich, below, who sent out invitations, decorated the centre, made all the cakes including a special 30th anniversary edition, and made £300 donation.
Ron Hollis of Purton Roasters donated the pig roast and Rockers Reunited entertained supporters.
Find out more at www.msswindon.org.uk or call 01793 481700.