World scientists get soaked for MND

Do you think of science as a dry subject maybe? Does it conjure up images of hushed concentration? Furrowed brows? Test tubes and microscopes? Spotless labs?

The scientists at SITraN the Sheffield Institute for Translational Neuroscience were anything but dry in mid-August as they teamed up with the MND Association in the annual Soak a Scientist fundraiser in Sheffield.

"We do it in Endclifffe Park in Sheffield it's an amalgamation between South Yorkshire Branch MNDA and the scientists and students at SITraN, which brings together about 50 scientists from all over the world," said South Yorkshire Branch's Geoff Bland.

"They're doing research on all sorts of neurological conditions, MND is one of them. They do quite a lot of work for Motor Neurone Disease," he said.

Five years ago the scientists decided that they wanted to step away from their microscopes and do something a little more raucous to fight MND, said Geoff, adding that the professors and doctors of SITraN welcome the chance to speak to people in the community and explain what they are working on.

"Basically they turn up, sit on a chair and we invite people to spend a pound and throw a bucket of water over them. It's a cracking day we get lots of people there. Kids love it," said Geoff.  "One scientist brought his family with him, young kids, and they were insistent that dad should sit down and get wet. He must have had a dozen soakings."

The staff from SITraN help raise money by putting on a cake stall and Geoff shared a fundraiser's secret to encourage people to loosen the purse strings for charity: balloons.

"We give loads of balloons away to kids because that's usually an attraction. Very often if you give a kid a balloon, the parents will come up and say, 'How much do we owe you?'  and put something in a bucket anyway. It gives us an opportunity to speak to people about MND, what it's all about and what we do."

The South Yorkshire branch has got another big event lined up in November when it holds its third dinner dance event. Geoff explained that the theme for the first dinner dance was 007 because British actor David Niven, who died of MND, once played James Bond.

 "Last year was our branch's 20th anniversary so we did a Roaring Twenties night, dinner dance, and this year is the 40th anniversary of the UK MND Association so we're doing a 1940s night."

Words by Keiron Henderson - Volunteer writer

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