Bev's battle with MS

It was Valentine's Day three years ago that fitness instructor Bev Wright was told she had MS. Catherine Scott reports.

Bev Wright, from Menston

When fitness instructor Bev Wright started to suffer unexplained aches and pains she thought she had overdone things ver the years.

Initially she assumed her symptoms were related to injuries sustained in her 20 year career and saw a physiotherapist after she suffered what she thought was a shoulder injury.

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But when Bev, who runs Leeds-based Ab Fab Fitness with friend Andrea Riddoch, realised she was numb in her ribcage, she realised it was something else.

A visit to her GP and then neurological tests followed.

Yet she still did not think it could be Multiple Sclreosis

“When the doctor said “MS” ,I looked behind me. Ithought

‘is he talking to me?’.” It was Valentine’s Day 2013.

The signs had been there – she had developed a slight limp as a result ofthe MS, but it seemed that her body had tried to repair itself.

“Part of you thinks ‘why me?’, when i have done everything that I possibly can to keep myself really healthy,” she says.

“I don’t have dairy, bread, processed foods – and I’ve been like that most of my adult life. You can’t help but feel a bit bitter. but it’s just one of those things. i still can’t believe it’s me.”

But rather than be consumed by the negative effects of her MS, Bev decided to chanel her enegeries in a positive way.

“I was so shocked that I knew I had to do something to raise funds and awareness of the condition”, says Bev. “After attending a fundraising ball for the Bexley Wing at St James’s University Hospital in Leeds, I got together with a small group of friends and decided to an MS charity ball.”

A total of 180 guests attended the inaugural ball in November 2013, raising £6,300 in total, which was donated to the West Yorkshire MS Therapy Centre in Rawdon, and a local branch of the MS Society. The event was so successful that Bev decided to host another in 2014. The second event was an even bigger success, attracting 293 people and raising an impressive £11,000 for the Yorkshire Brain Research Centre.

Bev wanted to keep up her fundraising efforts, but due to her condition she needed to pace herself so decided to host the ball every 18 months rather than it be an annual event.

Now Bev and her friends are hoping the ICE Ball, which is expected to attract over 400 guests, will smash their own fundraising record.

As well as organising the event, the team are also recording an Ice Ball Anthem which will be available to download on ITunes, with all proceeds going to the charity.

“So many people don’t even know what MS is, so I want to keep hosting the ball to raise awareness and funds,” says Bev. “I wanted to give the ball a name so that when people heard it they immediately associate it with MS, like the Firecracker and Candlelighter events for Barnardo’s and Candlelighters. A fellow MS sufferer came up with ICE ball and I loved it.

“The ICE Ball will be our third ball and it’s shaping up to be our most successful event yet. We have female vocalist Liz Keeting performing on the night, as well as professional magician John Danbury. We’ve already sold over 50 per cent of the tickets so fingers crossed it will be completely sell-out and we can break our previous record.”

Bev says she tried to keep as positive as possible, but the last few years have been a rollercoaster of emotions.

“I ’ve been up one minute, down the next, but everything I’ve read says you have just got to deal with it.

“Just do everything you possibly can not to letit affect you. Most of the time I try to do that.”

Bev has read up extensively on the condition, which affects the central nervous system as the coating around nerve fibres is damaged, causing various symptoms.

Experts are unsure as to what causes the condition and there is no cure.

Bev still teaches exercise classes, although she struggles with fatigue–which is one of the symptoms. and she says the support from her husband Steve, family, friends and especially the women who attend her classes has helped immensely.

The 3rd Ice Ball takes place on Saturday May 7 at The Craiglands Hotel, Ilkley

Tickets are £60 and include a meal, Live Band and DJ.For

For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://msfundraising.co.uk/events/ice-ball-2016.html