Plymouth Group raises G&T to fight MND

Fundraiser and campaigner Douglas Kerr in the Plymouth and District Group likes to do things with a twist when it comes to raising money for MND and so was happy to accept a friend's donation of free tours at the Plymouth Gin Distillery last month.

"A friend of mine runs the gift shop and the tours (at the distillery) and she donated 20 free places to go on a 45-minute tour," said Douglas. "We put them up for 10 pounds a tour and we gave them a little gift bag and put a magician on in the bar afterwards. People thought it was a great idea."

Douglas says Plymouth is a tough place to raise money, with a lot of charities competing in a relatively small place, so innovation is key.

"We've always kept things fresh because if you start getting repetitive on fundraising things that will affect your attendance, so we like to come up with new ideas all the time. What we find is other people start copying our ideas," said Douglas.

The group last year had a big success with its dinner marking the anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, raising £2,200 at the event, which was matched by banking group Santander. But rather than go around again this year the group has come up with something different.

"We didn't do it again this year because we changed the theme. We've got a dinner on 5 October and it's going to be a night at the Oscars. We've advertised it for the MND Association's 40th anniversary, we've got a hundred tickets sold so far. We're hoping to raise about £1,500 and again Barclays Bank is going to match fund it for us," he said.

Douglas is not content with just being an innovative fundraiser, he likes to get on the front foot when it comes to putting forward the MND Association cause. He set up his own football themed campaigning group #redcard4mnd earlier this year.

"When I started that in January 2019 Plymouth Argyll agreed to help push the campaign along. With the backing of the team, I've done photoshoots with the players and they've done a bit of advertising in their programme for us, so it's all been a good awareness thing."

And local artist Ron Wheeler, who is living with MND, is doing his bit to raise awareness of the disease, showing his artwork recently at a community event run by a local cafe.

Ron does his art via the Eyegaze computer technology and sells it locally through his own foundation fund Art For MND. The artist will be taking part in an exhibition of work by people affected by MND at London's Oxo Tower in October to mark the MND Association's 40th anniversary.

Words by Keiron Henderson - Volunteer writer

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