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Chair of Trustees’ Christmas Message

The Christmas season is well underway – as always, for the Centre, heralded in by the Christmas Market last month. Together with wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and thanking everyone for their help and support in 2018, I wanted to take the opportunity to make a couple of announcements regarding the new Trustees and my own fundraising challenge for 2019. So bear with me and read on!

2018 Fundraising Record Breaker

The Christmas Market and the Ball, this last weekend, round off a very strong year of fundraising – we’re predicting to achieve our highest total since the new Centre opened, £370,000 (this includes a growing contribution from the non-MS users of Oxygen Therapy). As well as the old favourites we saw some exciting new events on the calendar this year, including the Making Strides for MS sponsored walk and the Music Shack festival. Massive thanks must go out to the fundraising team Moira, Vicky and Sarah, to the Centre staff, and to all the volunteers that make delivering this income possible.

The membership numbers also continue to grow and membership fees and donations for therapies are also an important part of our income generation. More members and a rising cost of living generally means that the cost of running the Centre is increasing all the time and next year will need to be another record breaker if we want to maintain the levels of service that you all have a right to expect. The budget just agreed by the Board estimates that we will need £577,000 in 2019.

It’s important of course to manage costs and make sure we are as efficient as we can be. The larger Centre and Membership numbers have put a bit of strain on our processes recently. Happily, in February we welcomed Keziah as our first Chief Executive Officer and I think she deserves our fullest congratulations on getting her head and arms round all the various challenges that running our Centre entails, and particularly with bringing much needed clarity to the membership set up and pricing policies. With the tidying up done more time and energy will be able to be devoted next year to offering new services to Members, as well as looking for new ways to raise money.

News on Trustees

When I took over the Board from Hilary in May I let you know that I would not be able to be the sort of Chair that is frequently in the Centre, but one of the things I did want to do was to ensure that we had more people on the Board that do spend time in the Centre and can represent the views and needs of Members more appropriately. I’m pleased to be able to say that we now have Richard Curzon and Caroline Macdonald-Bryant, both Full Members with MS, Ian Howells, whose wife Dany many of you may know as a longstanding Member, and Mary Cox, a volunteer and member of the Fundraising Committee. We have also just been able to recruit Gavin Davis, a Facilities Management expert (and husband of Member Maria Davis) to help us take the best care of our premises. Each Trustee has taken on a special area of focus to help drive improvements.

Together with the IT, finance and business skills provided by the existing Trustees, it feels like we now have a well-balanced Board, able to provide objective business advice at the same time as ensuring that delivering our mission to improve the lives of Members and their families and carers is uppermost in our decision-making.

The Chair’s Challenge

As mentioned, raising more money is essential to the Centre, but it’s like climbing a never-ending mountain – there is always a bigger peak ahead. Racking my brains to think what more I could do to help I came up with my own challenge, to run the Canterbury half marathon in aid of the Centre, on 29th August next year. Now I know a half marathon is not that impressive, some of you will have done better, but with a full-time job, the Centre responsibilities, and four children (almost grown-up but definitely not off my hands), finding time to train is a big challenge in itself. I’ve worked out the only way I can fit it in is to get up earlier and, in December, start my running in the dark. To keep me motivated I will certainly need the encouragement of lots of sponsors!

As a further spur to my determination, I will also pledge to match every penny donated if I fail to start. So, the more sponsors the more it will cost me if I fail – I hope that will be a big incentive for people to chip in! I’ve set up a Just Giving page that I’m launching this month, and I’ve signed up to the Canterbury 10 Mile in January to give me a short-term goal. Please share the link as widely as you can.

That’s all from me for now, all that remains is for me to wish you and your families a wonderful Christmas and much happiness in 2019.

Warm wishes,



Sharon Wilding
Chair of Trustees

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