Gwynfa – MS-UK – The Grand Eastbourne

Meet the Hidden Heroes

Every so often, an R2R break takes place that captures everything our charity is about. Everything we were set up to do. Few nominations and breaks demonstrate the purpose and power of R2R like Gwynfa, nominated by our great friends at MS-UK, who enjoyed a wonderful, well-earned break at long-time supporters The Grand, Eastbourne. This is her story.

The Charity

MS-UK is a national charity formed in 1993. We are here for people affected by multiple sclerosis – that’s around 130,000 people in the UK or one in every 500, with about 130 people diagnosed every week on average. The overall number of people living with multiple sclerosis worldwide is estimated to be 2.3 million. MS-UK is here for anyone affected by multiple sclerosis, to empower them to live healthier and happier lives by improving the understanding of MS and providing support where it is needed most. Find out more –

The Nomination

Gwynfa is the type of person that every charity needs. She has been involved with MS UK since 1994. Gwynfa and her family’s support to MS UK has been incredible. Her husband Peter, who lives with MS, originally volunteered back in the 1990’s and since then have been volunteering their time and fundraising for MS UK at every opportunity.

For many years, Gwynfa – also fondly known as Lady Marmalade – has been making her own special marmalade in her neighbourhood in return for donations. To help increase these proceeds, Gwynfa collects home grown plants from her friend and sells these alongside the famous fruit preserve. All donations come to MS UK. Gwynfa was also one of our first Community Champions. She has taken naturally to this volunteer role and has been out and about in her local community, raising awareness for MS UK and building great relationships, opening up future fundraising opportunities.

Gwynfa does not stop at giving up her own time distributing our collection pots, she goes above and beyond by checking the donations inside for rare coins after she realised some of the coins could raise more money than their face value. She checks all the change inside and has found several commemorative 50p coins, these are then sold on eBay for around £1-£2, more than doubling the donation originally received. Gwynfa has also taken part in some of our most iconic events, which include the Virgin Money London Marathon and Prudential Ride London, raising over £10,000 for the charity.

During lockdown, Gwynfa was our most active champion. She continued to take our collection pots to supermarkets in her community – the only public place open for fundraising opportunities – and everyone’s spare change soon mounted up. Gwynfa is an amazing force and was not going to be stopped by a pandemic.

Gwynfa is an amazing supporter for MS UK and her generous nature, warm personality and sheer determination make her a powerful contributer to our charity.

Gwynfa’s Volunteering Story

“Volunteering for MS-UK was never part of any master plan – it just happened and it soon became an important and significant part of life in the Pod household. I can’t even recall how or when it started but it did- and I have never looked back.

I first came to MS-UK in 1990 when it was ARMS and my husband was newly diagnosed- then as indeed now, the support and help has been huge and ongoing and through volunteering we are both able to say a little thank you to the Charity.

I would recommend volunteering wholeheartedly. It does not need to be any great commitment or grand gesture or even helping on a regular basis. – just do what you can, when you can and it will be greatly appreciated by everyone associated with MS-UK.

There is no ‘job description’ and there are so many ways you can offer time and energy and many others you have not even thought about – yet!

My volunteering includes helping at Swim Serpentine and the Excel Stand pre-Marathon, cheering runners on in the London 5K (as was) and the London Marathon and then perhaps the largest part for me is fundraising – making marmalade and jam to ‘sell ‘by donation, offering plants nurtured by friends and family for ‘sale’ by donation, London station bucket collection.

Volunteering has much to do with profile raising such as wearing MS-UK T shirts, cycle shirts, MS-UK Monkeysox wearing, selling donated items including commemorative 50p coins, and charity pot collections from local shops, for example. They all generate conversations about MS and MS-UK.

Through volunteering I have met so many people, made so many friends, and made so many connections. All of these bring so much and are so rewarding in countless ways. Knowing how much volunteering means to others is reward enough.”

The Break

The Grand Eastbourne is part of Elite Hotels, fantastic supporters of R2R and one of the very first groups to join our journey. They have welcomed numerous Hidden Heroes over the years and the fantastic team made sure Gwynfa had a truly memorable break.

The Impact

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart. We are just back from Eastbourne where everyone at the Grand Hotel looked after us most regally. It was such a magnificent treat in the lap of luxury.

As it happened, Peter took delivery of his new power chair a few days beforehand so this was its first outing. It is too heavy for me to lift out of the car so it was ideal to ask the concierge team for help. We walked for miles along the seafront and everywhere was so accessible. When Peter was settled in our lovely room with his iPad, I took myself to the health club downstairs for a swim, jacuzzi and steam on one day and a swim in the outdoor pool the next. I cannot begin to tell you how special that was.

All in all, the break could not have come at a better time for us. To go away and stay in the wonderful Grand Hotel for two nights has been so very very special and true respite for us both in every sense of the word. Thank you most sincerely for the generosity of you and your hotels to make this happen. It has meant more than words can truly tell.”

Gwynfa – Hidden Hero – MS-UK

“It was a pleasure to welcome Gwynfa and we are so pleased she had such a wonderful break. It makes for gratifying reading and brings into context the significant value of the Room to Reward programme.”

Graeme C Bateman – Managing Director – Elite Hotels

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