Established in 1984, the Centre was set up to provide a range of therapies and support services to all those affected by MS.
In the beginning
The story of the KMSTC in Canterbury began 30 years ago. A group of local people, all diagnosed with MS, recognised a need for an MS support service in East Kent and bravely made the decision not only to try to raise enough money to build and equip a purpose built centre, but also to raise £150,000 every year thereafter to cover the running expenses.
Their vision was to provide a complete service for people with MS in an environment which was positive, caring and supportive.
Finding a suitable site was not an easy task and the group experienced several financial hiccoughs along the way. Eventually, with their sustained effort over the years and the good will and encouragement of many supporters, the centre became a reality.
In 1984, the centre, housed in a small prefabricated building, was erected at Merton Lane North, next to Canterbury Rugby Club.
Some of those involved with the fundraising back then are still active members today – underlining the spirit of the charity’s motto “Self Help is Our Way of Action”
Over the years KMSTC has gone from strength to strength and it’s thanks to the countless acts of generosity from the local population that has enabled the centre to weather a sometimes fragile economic climate and move forward in a very positive way.
The original building served us well for 30 years, catering for:
- rapidly growing membership
- a drop in facility
- neurological physiotherapy
- nutritional advice
- Oxygen Therapy
- specialist nurse clinics
- symptom management workshops
- self-management programmes
Although not a cure for MS, all of these services can help improve the quality of life for those people living with the condition. But the Centre was creaking at the seams and no longer able to cope with the rising demand – so a fundraising appeal was launched to deliver a state-of-the-art facility that would serve the needs of the MS community for many more years to come.
The 21st Century version
Following the fantastic news that KMSTC had reached its New Building Appeal target, work started on this much needed new facility on Monday 13th January 2014.
That day started with a ground breaking ceremony which was attended by several members of the centre, volunteer fundraisers and many other supporters of the appeal. Some of the supporters included children and staff from various primary and secondary schools across Kent, masons, members of various WI’s, members of the public and friends and families of KMSTC members who had supported the appeal with fundraising events, activities and donations. After the first piece of soil was turned by centre patron and major donor, Frank Brake, the celebrations continued with afternoon tea in a marquee adjacent to the centre which was kindly donated by Canterbury Rugby Club.
Volunteer fundraiser and mother of four, Mary Daly, said “When I got involved in helping to fundraise for the appeal 2 years ago, I never thought we would be standing here so soon afterwards watching the first piece of soil being turned. Its a very emotional day for me and others with MS as this new building has been desperately needed for such a long time; I feel privileged to have played such a major part in the new centre”
Support Manager, Karen Middlemiss said “Our old building has served us well over the years and has been a lifeline for many people; what we have managed to achieve, and the support we have been able to provide to people with MS from such a cramped and deteriorating facility has been incredible. The centre has a very exciting future ahead and we just cannot wait to move in and let our members take full advantage of all the lovely new facilities!”
Fundraising Manager at the time, Helen Wathen said “We have had an enormous amount of support with our New Building Appeal from our Patron, Frank Brake, many Trusts,members of the public and our volunteer fundraisers and we shall be eternally grateful to all of them.”
The new centre opened its doors to welcome members on 5th January 2015.