Church raises £1600 for North West London Branch
North West London Branch co-chair Cheryl Stroud was surprised and intrigued to receive a WhatsApp message out of the blue from a carer for someone with Motor Neurone Disease, inviting her and co-chair Sarah Ezekiel to a church in Paddington to make a presentation to the congregation about the disease.
They were even more taken aback to hear that the The Healing Church of God in Christ, rallying around a sick member, had chosen the MND Association and the NW London branch to be their charity of the year and had raised around 1,600 for the charity. The church stipulated that it wanted the money to be spent locally and not on research.
"We had been chosen as the church's charity and we were asked to make a presentation to the churchgoers and so we went along there. It's a West Indian church in Paddington. I found an introduction to MND video on the website, we played that in the church then Sarah did something she'd prepared earlier about the challenges of living with MND," said Cheryl.
Sarah said it was a real pleasure to spend a day with the congregation, describing them as a kind and generous community. "My journey and the work of the NW London Branch seemed to really touch the people there and I'm grateful for their support and prayers," said Sarah.
Cheryl said the day at the church featured lively song and prayer and a homecooked meal. "It wasn't a big rich congregation but the end they said they'd raised 899 pounds (which by publication rose to 1,600) which must have come from the wider congregation. They were such lovely people, so friendly with hugs all round, the service was so relaxed. I'm so glad we went," said Cheryl.
"There was a Q+A and we fielded some interesting questions. The audience was stunned by how quickly Sarah could answer questions using her eyegaze equipment, that went down very well," she added.
Cheryl said the MND Association structure had allowed a local charity to make direct contact quickly and easily, although she was a little surprised to find out that the national office did not have an off-the-peg slide pack available for groups to make presentations to people wanting to know more about MND. "They're putting one together now, in case people ask in future," she added.
Reflecting on such a surprising and rewarding day Cheryl said: "This was a very good awareness raising exercise, there were quite a few people there that didn't know anything about MND and someone actually offered to volunteer for North West London branch.
We put a lot of effort in to prepare for it and to spend a whole afternoon there. Sarah went down really well, people can understand the disease a lot more seeing MND. Sarah was able to answer direct questions about her experiences."
Words by Keiron Henderson - Volunteer writer