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Looking back… and moving forward

Our anniversary was a time to reflect, but also a time to plan for what is ahead… Read more

Volunteers going the distance

Our volunteers come from far and wide, and from all walks of life. They never fail to make the office a brighter place to be, and we strive to give them valuable hands on experience in return. Kristen came all the way from Georgia, USA to give us a helping hand. She was with us for six weeks, and has very kindly shared what she learnt from her time here. Read more

Rallying around The National

We have many long term supporters who have repeatedly amazed us with their continued fundraising efforts.

Having raised £25,000 for us over the years, Sarah Singleton and her husband Neil are just one example of the absolutely overwhelming dedication that enables The National Hospital to continue to help the 12.5 million in the UK affected by a neurological condition.

Here, Sarah tells us where it all began, and what led to their most recent event.

“I wanted to repay the hospital for saving my life.

In 1990, after months of severe headaches and a number of visits to my GP, I was rushed to Whittington Hospital, North London. I had a CT scan and was transferred to The National Hospital, then in Maida Vale. The diagnosis was not good: a rare and malignant brain tumour called a gliosacoma, which kills most patients within 18 months. After the first operation to remove the tumour I had a brain haemorrhage, which needed another operation. My neurosurgeon, Mr Michael Powell was able to stop the bleeding and remove more of the tumour. After three weeks I was transferred to UCH for six weeks of radiotherapy, speech and physiotherapy. I had to use a wheelchair and continued with speech therapy for around three  years.

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Welcome Louise!

We’re delighted to welcome our new Fundraising Co-ordinator, Louise Fowler. In between settling in to her new desk, she took the time to tell us a little bit about her background and what brought her to The National Brain Appeal. Read more

No charities in ten years time? Our response

It was with interest that I read an article entitled “There shouldn’t be any charities in 10 years time”  from Will Horwitz in the Voluntary Sector Network blog. Like all good writing, the provocative headline hooked me into reading. Read more

Doing it their way for The National

We have some incredible individuals at The National: our medics are life-savers and every day our patients face the biggest fears with strength and determination.

Not content with these amazing feats of human spirit, every year medics and patients alike put their energy into organising events to raise thousands of pounds for us. From the corridors of The National, we’ve had marathon runners, trekkers, cyclists, and all manner of fundraisers coming up with individual and creative ideas to raise awareness of neurological conditions.

This year is no exception. Here are just two individuals who are making a difference, in their own way.

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Being active and staying safe

It felt very shocking to hear just before New Year that Michael Schumacher was in a critical state in hospital. The man who raced over 200 miles per hour for a living had “severe brain trauma” following a skiing accident and though at the time of writing Schumacher’s  condition is being reported as steadier, the future remains uncertain.

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The big THREE-OH!

A very happy New Year to you from everyone in The National Brain Appeal team!

2014 marks our 30th birthday so we’re planning lots of activities to celebrate our joint achievements to date.

Over the past thirty years, amazing projects like the Dementia Research Centre, The Molly Lane Fox Unit, the Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases and the Advanced Neuroimaging Suite have come to fruition thanks to the support of people like you. You’ve helped us provide better care for the thousands of patients who have come through the doors of The National by funding more than £40 million of innovative projects.

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Bountiful Bazaar

Just a quick note to say thank everyone who joined us at our Bazaar at the end of November – for their Christmas shopping, for a chat or as a volunteer.

We had some lovely donations from friends and local businesses and we hope you’ve now got your books, beauty products, jewels and treats wrapped up and under the tree. We’ve counted all the pennies and pounds and are delighted to announce they’ve added up to £2,000 – thank you so much again.

Once again, a big thank you to Peregrine’s Pianos

For those of you attending our Carol Concert you might like to look out for a very special donation centre stage…

For a second year running, Peregrine’s Pianos have very kindly donated one of their pianos for our Carol Concert on the 12th December.

Situated on the corner of Guilford Street, Peregrine’s Pianos are very close to The National Hospital and have a connection to community events and charities in the local area, having supported both ourselves and the Bloomsbury Festival in recent years. In October, Peregrine’s Pianos also hosted the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014 knock-out rounds in their studio space.

Blog image - Schimmel Upright

This year, Peregrine’s Pianos have given one of the latest model Schimmel upright pianos which will accompany the choir.

We’re so grateful to Dawn Elizabeth Howells and all her team at Peregrine’s Pianos and can’t wait to hear the piano in all its glory.

For tickets to the carol concert, order online today.

 

Bump and his brain raise over £2,000

Bump’s Brain is the story of a baby boy who has overcome huge challenges. Here, his mum tells us about their fundraising sleepwalk in Liverpool in aid of our recent Pyjama Party. You can read more about their journey here.

In February 2013, at our baby’s 20-week scan, we discovered he had a large, midline arachnoid cyst, agenesis of the corpus callosum and missing septum pellucidum. We were in a bit of shock and as the doctors couldn’t really give us a lot of information, I took it upon myself to scour the web looking for all I could find. This was pretty unsuccessful so I decided to start a blog to try and reach out to people who may be going through the same as us. I wrote to a few places for help, but to no avail.

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Greased Lightning

Around 9.30pm last night, a stream of people in their PJ humming songs from a musical, dispersed into the streets around London’s Oxford Circus. Some had slippers on their feet, others were in animal-printed onesies and many wore nightcaps. If you’re wondering what on earth was happening, this jolly bunch had joined our Pyjama Party held at the beautiful Courthouse Hotel.

The lobby had begun filling up with people around half 6 and it was wonderfully bizarre to see people at the bar doing double (or even triple) takes at the fact they were sharing their post-work drinks with people in dressing gowns and slippers. One couple had really gotten into the swing of things; she had her hair in curlers and her partner sported a marvellous 50s-style quiff.

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Fifty miles for a fantastic cause

Jayne McCarthy who had completed a fifty-mile walk to raise money for The National Hospital wrote this moving piece documenting her journey. Well done for such an incredible effort, Jayne.

In 1985 an acoustic neuroma was found on my left hearing nerve. Although this was benign I lost my hearing on that side. Ten years later, the tumour had grown back and was subsequently removed.

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The Big 100

Rolling with the legacy of last year’s Olympics, this month saw the first ever Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 – as the name suggests, a gruelling hundred mile cycle through the hills of Surrey and the city roads.

Thank you to Kirsty Brown, Peter Godsall and Vaughan Ward, the three intrepid riders who cycled for The National Brain Appeal. Here, Vaughan shares his story of the up-hill struggles and the sweet, sweet downs …

On the 14th of May I received a rather unexpected text message from my good friend Clare asking if I was interested in taking part in a charity bike ride for The National Brain Appeal. I happily accepted – only to then realise it was a hundred miles long.

Although daunted at first by the prospect, I soon became extremely excited to ride an adaptation of the Olympic road race and cover the same tarmac as the great Bradley Wiggins and Lizzie Armitstead.

I have to admit that this was my first exposure to The National Brain Appeal but I quickly found that everyone has something in common with the charity. They campaign for such a wide range of conditions and illnesses that seem to touch everyone I know in one way or another.

My training began well, taking thirty mile cycles down the picturesque Lea Valley into rural Hertfordshire. The rolling hills, even in bad weather, were a breath of fresh air from the stop/start congestion of the streets of London. However, I made a serious error in my training; I continued my normal routine, which consisted of football, predictably injured myself and had only six weeks left to train.

The fast-track training proved to have mixed emotions. Hours upon hours on the bike gave me time to think but the road soon felt like a lonely place without a training partner. The thunderstorms began, which made it harder, but when the clouds cleared I had some great experiences too. There was the triple rainbow, the time I had to stop on a country lane to let a family of ducks casually waddle across the road and, on the several occasions I became lost, passers-by would ask about the charity on the jersey that I was proudly wearing. A lady shared a story with me about how she had recently recovered from a brain aneurysm. It was a lovely moment to share her joy at the side of the road.

My fundraising went better than expected; the support I received from friends, family and beyond was fantastic.

The day arrived: I had trained and raised a great amount of money but had doubts about completing the task that loomed over me. What I wasn’t prepared for was how emotional the six and a half hours of cycling would be.

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The anticipation on the start line was incredible. Everyone was anxious to get their legs turning. The race began by making a few cycling companions until the point when our speeds no longer kept us together. We stretched out and I met the beginnings of the beautiful Surrey countryside. It wasn’t until about fifty miles in that it started to get difficult.

I’d met the climb that everyone thought was Leith Hill but that monster – the one that keeps going up and up on every turn – was still yet to come. When it did, my legs started to burn and many were walking. I didn’t care how slowly I went; I was determined not to get off my bike. I reached the summit to discover one of the most beautiful descents of my life. With everyone travelling under their own steam it suddenly felt like a different time.

The fun didn’t last long: the roads did claim some casualties as they aren’t without their dangers and the ascents began once more.

I soon learnt that the infamous Box Hill is actually the little brother to Leith Hill: Leith Hill saps you of your energy and Box Hill sets to finish you off. It was not to succeed. I stopped only momentarily to hug my Mum, who had travelled from Leicestershire with her boyfriend to provide me with my second wind. At this point, I was struggling and close to tears. I had never felt so emotionally compromised by a physical task before.

I felt a little pathetic. The National Brain Appeal calls their fundraisers ‘heroes’, but I only have to be one for a day; those who I aim to help have to be heroes everyday. It is this that drove me on.

With thirty miles to go, the carnival atmosphere began. Bands on the sides of the roads and people lining the street made you feel like you had already finished. You hadn’t; there was still a distance to go but pelotons formed and everyone was driving one another home. I limped towards the ten-mile mark after a bout of cramp but finished fast in a sporting sprint with four others. I’d done it.

My friends lined the finish with banners and my girlfriend had made a t-shirt with my face on it. I struggled to take it all in through the shakes of completing the task. The sense of relief and achievement forced a smile to my face. I celebrated with chips, a shandy, friends and thinking of all those I hope we’ve helped.

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Girl power!

Last month, Ashleigh Steward, her mum Sharon, Sharon’s friends Debbie and Linda and their daughters Emily and Jessica conquered Ben Nevis to raise over £3,500 for The National Hospital.

Let’s hear more about their story from Ashleigh…

In February 2012 my mum Sharon suffered a totally unexpected subarachnoid brain haemorrhage. She was rushed to hospital and then transferred to The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where she stayed for three weeks. They performed two emergency operations and looked after her until she was well enough to go home.

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Matt climbs mountains

Inspired by the treatment and care his father-in-law received at The National, Matt Line braved snow and extreme weather to take part in the South Wales Three Peaks Challenge. He’s since thawed out his fingers and written a piece sharing his experience.

My name is Matt Line and I’m a Specialist Biomedical Scientist in Haematology and Blood Transfusion at Gloucester Royal Hospital. My wife, Grace and I have a beautiful five month old daughter called Rose and we live in a small town called Monmouth, located just over the Welsh border between the Wye valley and the Black mountains. Read more

A Marathon effort

Last week was one of the biggest events in our calendar – the Virgin London Marathon – and what a day it was! Here are our highlights …

The day began at 5.30am when Tallulah, our Fundraising Co-ordinator, was at the bus stop on her way to the start line. She was joined by one competitor in his trainers and several revellers still enjoying their Saturday night out. We met at 6.45am on Embankment at the 25-mile mark so we could find the best spot where our banner would be most visible to our runners. Then it was time for a wake-up coffee and a bacon roll so we could be in top form for our runners… Read more

A Noble effort

My name is Michelle Noble. Three years ago my boyfriend Dan Edmonds was competing in his first kickboxing match when a blow to his head changed our lives forever. Dan was transferred to The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London where he was taken to the intensive care unit. Unfortunately Dan’s head injuries were too severe and he died two days later on the 27th October 2009.

Dan was always a very giving person, always wanting to help people. He fulfilled his dream of being a fire-fighter and even after his death continued helping others – saving seven people’s lives by donating his organs.

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A book at bedtime

Over the past few months we have been asking our followers to tweet their favourite bedtime stories – and the response has been really interesting. As a poll last year revealed, whatever our age, we still love the tales from childhood with a final shortlist including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Five on a Treasure Island, Where the Wild Things Are, Each Peach Pear Plum and the number one favourite The Gruffalo.

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Taming Terry

After being diagnosed with a brain tumour, Laura King decided to raise funds for The National Brain Appeal by organising and taking part in not one, but three events. With an infectiously positive attitude, she tells us how she is taming Terry the Tumour.

In April, I was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour (which I named Terry – what can I say… I have a sense of humour!) and subsequently I have been undergoing treatment at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery,Queen Square– a specialist hospital for those with brain tumours, epilepsy, stroke, dementia and many other brain related health problems.

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Food for thought

One of our major supporters, “Cooking4Charity” is off to Broadstairs on 5, 6 and 7 October to take part in the Broadstairs Food Festival to raise some more money for the National Brain Appeal.

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Sophie Milone: diary of an intern

Sophie Milone, the National Brain Appeal’s Pyjama Party intern talks about her role,  responsibilities and wearing pyjamas to work.

“Having just graduated this summer, I was at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. Then a perfect opportunity came along in the form of an internship at The National Brain Appeal. More specifically, I was taken on as a Pyjama Party intern to help fundraise and organise events to help raise money for the operating theatres appeal. A typical day for me varies from sending emails and researching possible companies to ask for donations, to wearing my pyjamas and selling cakes. Well, they do say variety is the spice of life! Read more

A fond farewell

After seven years as Fundraising Manager, Alex Adie (pictured in the centre with TNBA supporters Alison Brindle and Nicki Saini) has left The National Brain Appeal to join the Dulwich Picture Gallery as Development Manager Trusts and Foundations. Though we were incredibly sad to see her go, we are delighted that she is moving into such an exciting and creative new role.

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All in a day’s work

On 22 September, sixty brave employees from Carpmaels & Ransford will be taking part in the Virgin Active London Triathlon. Dividing into twenty teams of three, the triathletes will be running, swimming and cycling their way to a target of £10,000 for The National Brain Appeal. Richard Jackson, managing partner, tells us more about why so many members of staff are swapping their suits for lycra and taking up such a serious physical challenge. Read more

Penny brings in the pounds

We have so many amazing supporters who do a huge amount for the National Brain Appeal and every so often we like to really celebrate the amazing work of individual fundraisers. This week, we shine a light on Penny Boylan.

In 2009, Penny organised the first black tie Queen Square Dinner and Auction which raised over £102,000 towards the UK’s first Brain Tumour Unit at The National. The night was such a success that Penny organised the sequel this year and, at the end of May, the second Queen Square Dinner was held in the beautiful St Pancras hotel. Guests were welcomed with a champagne and canapé reception, followed by a silent auction during dinner and a Live auction conducted by Sotheby’s in the Hansom Hall. Alex, Marcelle and Tallulah from the NBA team were there to lend a helping hand and we watched in awe and amazement as bids flew in with the total sum nearing £175,000.

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The icing on the cake

There is always a flutter of excitement in the National Brain Appeal office when we receive news that Nicky Buckingham is back at The National, not just because of her close connection with the charity but because she also brings with her an array of cakes, biscuits and other delicious treats.

Last week, she set up stall at The National Hospital and unsurprisingly we had some very willing volunteers from the TNBA office who went down to say hello and to sample her latest taste creations. There was everything from Jubilee Fairy Cake and Royal Caramel Shortbread (said to be Prince William’s favourite sweet treat) to King Cupcakes and Victoria Sponge which went down very well with our four o’clock cup of tea time! Read more

London Marathon 2012

A Sunday morning in April and down at Greenwich, over 37,000 runners stretched their calves, tied their laces for one last time and looked ahead to 26 miles of physical lows and emotional highs. Amongst them, thirteen had chosen to run for The National Brain Appeal, having pledged to raise over £25,000.

We joined their friends and family at the Embankment twenty-five mile mark to cheer our team along every step of the way. In a week that was interspersed with bright sunshine, strong spring rain showers (and even the odd hailstone) we knew that our runners would need even more support than ever to keep their heads up as they came into the last mile. Read more

The Big Give Christmas Challenge

Thank you to everyone who went online and made a donation during the Christmas Challenge week. We’re delighted to say that we received almost £20,000 in donations. With matched funding from our  Big Give sponsor, Candis, and our pledges, the total raised from the Challenge now stands at over £38,000. Read more

Racing to help fight brain disorders

The National Brain Appeal’s race evening is a firm favourite with supporters with auction lots including diamonds, Disney passes and days out. Read more

Gassers v Slashers Quiz Night

TV hospital met real hospital when on 24 June, actors Julian Rhind-Tutt and Stephen Mangan (from Channel 4’s surreal hospital comedy series ‘Green Wing’) hosted The National Brain Appeal’s first ever quiz night. Read more

Celebrating a landmark anniversary at The National

2010 marked The National’s 150th and The National Brain Appeal’s 25th anniversaries. We celebrated with a host of special events, reflecting on past successes as well as looking forward to the future. Hundreds of people – including London’s Mayor Boris Johnson – streamed through our doors as part of an anniversary open day which showcased the range of services and treatments we offer.

During his visit, the Mayor unveiled a plaque to commemorate the start of works in the new Molly Lane Fox Unit, the dedicated ward and assessment centre for Brain Tumour patients which has since been completed and opened in early 2011. Read more

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