The Newsletter of the Bexley and Dartford branch
of the Multiple Sclerosis Society
Tel: 020 8306 7050
Our latest Shining Star is………….Peter Ludlow!
The MS Society Shining Star Scheme is designed to
recognise outstanding individual contributions by
volunteers who work with or on behalf of people
affected with MS. Each branch can nominate one
person for the award each year.
This year‟s Shining Star is Peter Ludlow, our auditor,
who for the past 15+ years has supported our
treasurers. He is pictured here (on the left) with Chris
Hunt our fundraiser and a former treasurer, who
presented Peter with his star and certificate at the
ABM in April.
This month’s anniversaries of note:
70 years ago (24 May 1941) WW II: The British battleship HMS Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck near
Iceland. The British Navy sank the Bismarck 3 days later.
50 years ago (31 May 1961) South Africa withdrew from Commonwealth membership; it became an independent republic.
P2 Branch Directory and Diary Dates
P3 Editor‟s Message /Branch News – Morrison‟s Collection / Flag Day / London Marathon – Terry Bright
P4 Elmstead Rehab Unit – Report from Jo Robert / Bungalow in Eastbourne / Yoga Class on Thursdays
P5 Gravesend MS Talk 14th May / Oxleas Festival 24 May / News from MS Society – Fingolimod
P6 News from MS Society cont‟d – CCSVI Study / Dept of Health Grant for Neurology Service
P7 News from MS Society cont‟d – MS Awareness Talk, Croydon 15th June / MS Foundation USA –
Axon Damage May Precede Myelin Damage….
P8 MS Foundation USA – ….Axon Damage May Precede Myelin Damage / Quiz / Thought for the
P9 And on the Lighter Side cont‟d – Jokes and Quiz Answers
President: Vice President: Honorary Vice President:
Mr Albert Ellingford Mrs Norma Ellingford Mrs Carol Kennedy
Secretary Deputy Chairman Treasurer
Mrs Val Burton Mr Peter Onley Mrs Ann Castle
87 Pelham Road Reeves Cottage
Bexleyheath 20 Broad Lane
Kent DA7 4LY Wilmington
Kent DA2 7AG
Tel: 020 8306 7050 Tel: 01322 408 908
Membership Secretary Mrs Thelma Bennett
Information Officers Dennis & Helen Buckley
Social Events Organiser / Mrs Val Burton - Tel: 020 8306 7050
Support Officer 87 Pelham Road
Bexleyheath, Kent DA7 4LY
Bungalow Manager/ Mr Ernie Burton - Tel: 020 8306 7050
Transport Organiser (as above)
Newsletter Editor Jim Gregory
Committee Member/ Chris Hunt
Committee Member Mrs Marilyn Child
Committee Member / Mrs Jenny Onley - Tel: 01322 408 908
Support Officer (as for Peter Onley)
Saturday Social / Support Meetings Committee Meetings
held at The Inspire Community Trust Centre held in the evenings
Whitehall Lane, Slade Green, DA8 2DH usually on the second Monday
on the first Saturday of the month of every month.
3pm - 5.30pm - unless otherwise indicated
9 May 13 June
7 May Social/Support Meeting
11 July 8 August
NONE! June 4 is Flag Day 2 July
12 September 10 October
6 August 3 September
1 October 5 November
THE EDITOR‟S BIT
Hi, all Nearing the end of May, after the roadshows, there will be
Last month‟s busy ABM resulted with Peter Onley the annual Cake Break event, MS Awareness Week, the
becoming Deputy Chairman. start of a promising nationwide MS register [enabled via
neurologists], launch of our Society‟s revamped website,
Many participants ran the 2011 London Marathon while mapping MS incidence fits into a recognisable format.
for charity, and we were not left out of the trend: Of course, the end of MS Week heralds our June flag day.
nicely honoured by Terry Bright.
April‟s two 4-day long weekend holidays, one Having had to miss the last meeting, I now look forward to
augmenting the royal wedding, are now behind seeing a crowd of jolly members, etc this Saturday.
us; the next thing to have gone by was the Which
voting method is for us? referendum. All the best, Jim
MS National Helpline 0808 800 8000
Elmstead Rehab Unit, Queen Mary Hospital 020 8302 2678 ext 4328
Our MS Specialist Nurses are:
Jill Robinson - Bexley zone - Erith Health Centre direct line 01322 357 952
Debbie McMillan - Dartford zone - mobile 07919 164 986
Morrison’s Sidcup - Store Collection
Chris Hunt would like to thank all the people who gave up their spare time to collect at Morrison‟s in Sidcup
on Monday 4th April. It was very successful day and, due to public‟s generosity, we raised £490.18.
A big thank-you goes to:
Brenda, Len, Roger, Eileen, Tom, Paula, Eddie, Sand, Peter, Denise, Maureen, Peter, Jenny, Ann and
Elaine for all their hard work and congratulations on raising such a grand total of almost £500.
Flag Day – Saturday 4th June
Don‟t forget – it‟s Flag Day on Saturday 4th June. If anyone else is free to help out for an hour or two on the
streets of Bexley Borough, please phone Chris Hunt (01322 668 685) or Peter Onley (01322 408 908).
London Marathon – Terry Bright
Terry finished the London Marathon in just under 5 hours.
“As it‟s his first marathon, I think he did very well indeed and we are all
very proud of him. I enclose his photo [with medal], and he hopes to
come along to the meeting on May 7th.” Val
Don‟t forget to fill in your official sponsorship forms. There is the +28%
GiftAid tick-box option, only for UK taxpayers. Cheques made payable to
MS Society with forms can be posted to either Val Burton or Ann Castle,
whereas collected cash with forms may be given in person.
We are highly indebted to him.
Latest News on Elmstead Rehab Unit - from Jo Robert
The campaign to protect the Elmstead Rehabilitation Unit continues apace. The unit is under threat as
Bexley Care Trust plan to review its services due to concerns about its cost and because its consultant is
retiring. On the 8th April James Brokenshire MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup came to the unit to meet people
with MS and other conditions who use the unit and their carers. People spoke movingly about how important
the unit is for them and why it would not make sense, both in terms of care and cost, to cut its services. Mr
Brokenshire is taking up our cause with the hospital and Bexley Care Trust management. Bexley Care Trust
have responded to the campaign group‟s letter and agreed that people who use the unit and their carers can
be involved in the review. The campaign has also attracted a lot of local press coverage and the website
and Facebook page are going strong. We also have plans to leaflet the local area to raise awareness and
secure even more support. I have been invited to a meeting with the hospital and Bexley Care Trust about
the unit in early May and hope to get a clearer picture about the review and how people will be able to get
involved. I will also be pressing them for a clear plan to secure consultant cover for the unit when Dr Bamji
retires at the end of May.
To keep updated about the campaign, check out our website www.savesidcupelmstead.com.
Don‟t forget to sign the petition to protect the unit if you haven‟t already. We would love to reach 1,000
signatures over the next week.
The petition is online at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/save-the-elmstead-rehabilitation-unit.html
or you can sign a version at the unit. Lastly, I would really like to thank everyone who has been involved in
the campaign so far.
Jo Robert, Service Development Officer for London, MS Society
Pictured from left to right: Val & Ernie
Burton, James Brokenshire MP, Brenda
Gilmore, Wendy Catoni, campaigner Curtis
Gilmore, Sarah McGilvray who were just a
few of the patients and carers, with Jo
Robert (MS Society) who attended the
meeting at the QMH Elmstead Rehab Unit
on 8th April to speak to Mr Brokenshire and
present him with the petition.
You - and others - are encouraged to sign
the petition online or at the Unit.
Bungalow in Eastbourne
It sleeps up to four persons. Vacancies still exist! The following 3 dates are currently available for hiring the
newly-refurbished bungalow. 22 – 29 May 17 - 24 September 24 September - 01 October
For details contact Ernie Burton on 020 8306 7050.
Weekly Yoga Classes
We‟re holding Yoga groups for people with MS (all abilities) and their carers at Inspire Community Trust.
Wheelchair users too are very welcome. The one-hour session starts at 15:30 every Thursday. It is well-
conducted by Debbie. For the present time. your branch is funding the session and also providing one carer.
If you are interested and wish to join the class, first please phone Val Burton on 020 8306 7050.
Gravesend & District Branch - MS Awareness Talks
Saturday 14th May 2011 10am till 2pm
Southern Valley Golf Course, Thong Lane Gravesend DA12 4LF
Carolyn Crane, Continence Advisor - “Managing an MS bladder and bowel”
Including refreshments and buffet lunch
To book your place or for more information
Phone 01474 363 383 or E-mail email@example.com
Oxleas Health Festival 2011 - Tuesday 24th May 9.30am – 3.00pm
To be held at Charlton Football Club, Floyd Road, SE7 8BL
This event is open to all residents of Bexley, Bromley & Greenwich although there is particular focus on the
health needs of people who use their services. There are free health checks and mini massage sessions
available plus you can find out about the range of health-related local services.
There are also workshops in media, journalism and social networking. Other events include a photography
exhibition, circus skills and creative writing and poetry and a marketplace with stalls run by lots of partner
You can find further details at www.oxleas.nhs.uk
News from the MS Society
First pill for relapsing remitting MS licensed 19 Apr 2011
Fingolimod (brand name Gilenya) has been licensed by UK regulators for people with highly active relapsing-
The new treatment, the first pill for MS, increases choice and bridges the gap for people who have not found
beta interferons to work, but who are not yet eligible to take Tysabri.
In clinicial trials, the treatment has reduced the number of relapses people with MS experience by 54% –
60% over a two-year period.
The decision by the Government‟s medicines agency, the MHRA, to licence the treatment means
neurologists can prescribe it from this week. However, access is likely to be patchy until the National Institute
for Clinical Excellence (NICE) reviews the cost-effectiveness of the treatment and decides whether or not it
should be routinely available on the NHS in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. Scotland has its own
prescribing committee, but their decision is likely to be influenced by NICE. Providing there are no delays,
the review should be complete by July.
Dr Doug Brown, Head of Biomedical Research at the MS Society, said:
"The licensing of the first pill for MS is great news for people with the condition. There are only a handful of
licensed drugs available to treat debilitating MS relapses and they‟re all taken by injection or infusion – so
the availability of a daily pill comes as welcome relief for many and will increase patient choice.
This treatment fills the gap for people who have failed on first line treatments but are not eligible for infusion
therapy and we look forward to seeing it made available to all those who could benefit from taking it."
News from the MS Society cont’d
CCSVI Study - results announced 15 Apr 2011
Results from the biggest study yet into CCSVI (chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency) suggest it does
not cause MS, but may be a result of the condition.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo tested 499 people for CCSVI.
289 had MS, 163 were „healthy controls‟ (no MS), 26 had other neurological conditions and 21 had clinically
isolated syndrome (CIS).
The results, published in the academic journal „Neurology‟ this week, found signs of CCSVI in:
• 56 % of people with MS
• 22% of „healthy controls‟
• 42% of those with other conditions
• 38% of people with CIS
According to lead researcher Dr Robert Zivadinov: "While this may suggest an association between MS and
CCSVI, association does not imply causality."
The study was „blinded‟, meaning those doing the tests did not know who had MS and who did not, so there
was no chance that they could influence results in any way.
There are currently seven other studies underway investigating the association between MS and CCSVI.
Department of Health grant to improve Neurology services 20 Apr 2011
The MS Society, Parkinson‟s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease (MND) Association have been jointly
awarded £340,000 from the Department of Health in a fantastic opportunity to influence and improve
neurology services in England.
The grant was given to Neurological Commissioning Support (NCS), a joint initiative set up by the three
charities to improve local „commissioning‟ (how services are decided, planned for and allocated) of health
and social care services.
NCS will use the grant to set up three projects, the locations of which are yet to be confirmed, which will help
health and social care commissioners better understand how they can plan and schedule services for people
with neurological conditions. The projects will also look to actively involve people with MS, Parkinson‟s, MND
and other neurological conditions in the planning process.
Sue Thomas, Chief Executive of NCS, said: “It‟s vital that people living with neurological conditions – the real
experts – are placed at the heart of local decision-making to help create services that meet their needs.”
The project, which has been funded by the Department of Health‟s Innovation, Excellence and Service
Development Fund, will run for three years and each year, three new projects will be added.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, has supported the project. He said: “We want voluntary sector
projects like this to play an increasingly important role in health and social care services so we must make
sure they have the support and funding to take advantage of this opportunity.
“Neurological Commissioning Support will make a big difference to local communities in England and I would
like to thank all those involved for their hard work in getting this project off the ground.”
MS National Awareness Talk - Wednesday 15 June 2011
at the Hilton Croydon, 101 Wadden Way, Purley Way, Croydon CR9 4HH
MS Awareness talks feature specialist professionals and people with multiple sclerosis.
It‟s a great way to learn more and meet others in a friendly environment.
This event will be an opportunity to learn about the progressive forms of MS and therapies and services
available to help in managing symptoms and adapting to changes in MS. It will also be an opportunity to get
an update on the research currently taking place, future directions.
11am -11.30am: Registration and tea and coffee
11.30am - 1pm: Talks followed by a Q&A session.
Speakers will include:
Dr Victoria Williams, Consultant neurologist at Guy‟s and St Thomas‟ Hospital about:
What is happening in progressive MS
Treatments, therapies available now
Research and future directions
Nichola Riding, MS nurse at Croydon University Hospital, will provide an overview of symptom relief
therapies and support and services available locally.
A person affected by MS will share their personal experience of how they manage the progressive
aspect of the condition.
1pm - 2pm: Finger buffet and networking
The MS Society recognises the need for treatments into progressive forms of MS and has therefore made
investment into finding treatments a real priority. We are seeing a higher number of clinical trials involving
people with progressive forms of MS in the anticipation of new treatments for them. You can find out more
about ongoing research at: http://www.mssociety.org.uk/research
To attend you need to register your place online at www.mssociety.org.uk/events or by contacting the
Information team, on 020 8438 0799 or email firstname.lastname@example.org [You’ll need to book early! Ed]
Important Note: The MS Society provides these events free of charge to allow equal access to information to
all, therefore it is your responsibility to ensure that you attend or tell us well in advance if you need to amend
or cancel your booking so we can make your place available to others on the waiting list.
MS Foundation [Florida, USA] monthly ‘net newsletter, March 2011 issue dated 4 April 2011
Axon Damage May Precede Myelin Damage
It has recently been discovered that axons, or nerve cells, can start degenerating spontaneously without
prior damage to their protective myelin coating. If found and treated early, this process can be reversed in
mice, which may lead to new effective treatments for MS, according to the findings of a study published in
In the paper, senior authors: two Munich professors, and colleagues describe how they found a previously-
unknown type of axon or nerve cell degeneration, which they call "focal axonal degeneration" (FAD).
While the discovery opens the door to new drug targets, the researchers warn there is still a lot of work to be
done before effective treatments are available.
Autoimmune diseases like MS occur when the immune system, which normally only targets and destroys
foreign agents such as toxins, bacteria and viruses, that have entered the body, instead attacks the body's
own tissue, causing inflammation and eventually degeneration of the area affected.
The predominant view is that axon damage in MS follows the gradual destruction of the myelin sheath, the
protective, electrically insulating coating of tissue surrounding the axon that speeds up the transmission of
What triggers the axon damage itself, however, is poorly understood, and it was this that the professors were
trying to learn more about using lab mice when they made their surprising finding. Continues >>>
This discovery may explain why some patients with MS experience spontaneous remission of symptoms:
"In its early stages, axonal damage is spontaneously reversible," said one. "This finding gives us a better
understanding of the disease, but it may also point to a new route to therapy, as processes that are in
principle reversible should be more susceptible to treatment."
“However, before any potential drugs can even be considered, never mind put forward for trial, we need a
much better understanding of the underlying molecular chemistry and biology of a disease.”
Previous studies of MS have already suggested that reactive oxygen and nitrogen radicals, chemicals
produced by the immune system, play an important part in destroying axons. The researchers suggest in the
case of FAD, these aggressive chemicals attack the mitochondria inside the nerve cells. Mitochondria are
the "power cells" inside cells: they synthesise ATP molecules, the universal "currency units of energy" with
which cells build, maintain and operate themselves.
In the lab mice, they were able to take action to rescue axons that had already started degenerating.
And in a final stage of their study, they found characteristic signs, consistent with FAD in brain tissue from
humans with MS, giving hope that the same treatment principles they established in the mice might also
work in humans.
1. Which two boxers exchanged blows in the so called 'Thriller in Manila'?
2. Airstrip One is the new name for Britain in which book?
3. The name of which central European capital city means 'ford'? (as in river ford)
4. Petula Clark had a No 1 hit in the UK charts in February 1967 with 'This is my Song'. Which famous English Sir wrote
5. What was Belize called until 1973?
6. What are the five republics of the former Soviet Union that end with 'stan'?
7. The Academy Award-winning song 'When You Wish Upon A Star' was written for which classic 1940 film?
8. Which Hollywood actress who has been married nine times was probably born in 1917?
Thought for the month (with thanks to Margaret
People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
BUT people will never forget how you made them feel
A man visits his doctor. “Doctor, I‟m having trouble with my hearing.” “What are the symptoms?” asks the
doctor. Puzzled, the man replies “They‟re a yellow TV cartoon family.”
Two blondes have just parked their car. The driver suddenly realises they‟ve locked themselves out. Her
friend helpfully says “We can always call the AA.” The driver replies, “Well whatever we do, we‟d better hurry
up – there‟s a storm coming and the top is still down.”
What do you call a woman you can only see in the distance? Dot.
One day a brunette and a blonde were walking through the park. All of a sudden the brunette stopped and
exclaimed, “Aw, look at the poor dead birdie.”
The blonde looked up and said, “Where?”
Deadline for the June issue of The Grapevine is Tuesday 24th May.
Your surplus disability goods for donation or sale could be publicised in our next newsletter.
It would be an appreciated gesture if a small contribution from the proceeds could be found our way.
Answers to puzzles on page 8
1. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier 2. 1984 3. Prague 4. Sir Charlie Chaplin 5. British Honduras 6. Kazakhstan,
Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. 7. Pinocchio 8. Zsa Zsa Gabor
This newsletter is published by the Bexley & Dartford branch of the MS Society. Reg’d Charity 1139257.
Editor: Jim Gregory.
The material printed here does not necessarily reflect the views of the MS Society or of its B & D branch.
Comments may be addressed either by letter to the editor, 73 Longmead Drive, Sidcup, Kent DA14 4NY or by