Speaker for 6th October 2015

Photo: President John Graham greets Moira McIvor, with Club Members Graham Kane (L) and Jim Hillis (R)
Talk by Moira McIvor on 'Action MS'

The Coleraine Probus were given an insight into the complex disease known simply as 'MS' or 'Multiple Sclerosis', when Moira McIvor, a professional care advisor gave a talk to the club. MS has a deadly reputation, once diagnosed there is no cure, only some recent drugs to slow down the development of the disease. Diagnoses itself is very difficult, as many of its symptoms mimic those of other illnesses. If that isn't worrying enough, members were shocked to hear that Northern Ireland has the second highest rate of MS per head of the population in the entire world.


So what is MS? Put simply it is damage to the spinal cord and nerve coating. This nerve covering, known as the myelin sheath, becomes inflamed and messages travelling to and from the brain to various parts of the body are either altered or interrupted. It can be a slow process, and for many sufferers it may be several years before the correct diagnoses is achieved.

Moira works for the Northern Ireland charity 'Action MS'. The charity gives direct support for people with MS and their families. It provides information and advocacy where necessary and runs a number of focus groups for young people. There is also a 'listening ear' service for people living with MS, a 'digital inclusion' programme helping people get online and a 'befriending' service as well. Action MS can help with legal advice, arranges excellent and pain relieving 'reflexology' sessions as well as a 'holiday caravan' in Portstewart to give families a break - where better!? Action MS receives no government funding, and entirely relies on the generosity of local people to continue its work.


In the "question and answer" session that followed the talk, members found out that women were more susceptible to MS and men. That at the present time, there is no certain cause of MS, but research has show that all suffers have a deficiency of Vitamin D, and that there studies into diet, climate, genetics and even location (Cookstown has a higher rate of MS than many other places in NI), to try to give a better understanding of Multiple Sclerosis.

At the end of the talk, the vote of thanks was given by member Jim Hillis, who's late wife was a victim of this terrible disease and wanted to give his support to the work on 'Action MS'.

For more information about 'Action MS' and 'Multiple Sclerosis', 'click' the logo below.


'Action MS' - a wonderful local charity
More about MS
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) attacks the nervous system. It is a physical disease which disrupts communication between the brain and nerves in the body. It is not a case of "being bad with your nerves" but rather that motor nerves, which operate muscles, and sensory nerves, which convey sensation such as touch, may not work properly. This may mean for example difficulty in walking or a failure to sense a very hot object.
But not all nerves are affected by MS. Some, such as the nerves working the heart and lungs, are not directly affected by MS.
What happens when MS attacks? The nerve covering known as the myelin sheath becomes inflamed and messages travelling to and from the brain to various parts of the body are either altered or interrupted. This may be a frightening experience not only for the sufferer but also for family and friends. Such an attack may be disabling and make the person feel very unwell. But fear of MS is compounded by not understanding the nature of the disease and anxiety over unpredictable outcomes.
Not everyone with MS is affected in precisely the same way. Also MS attacks follow no uniform pattern. Some people may experience repeat attacks which are very similar while others will find that each attack affects them in a different way.

Action MS is delighted to announce that Anna Magennis is to be its first School Ambassador!

Anna Magennis is indeed an inspirational young lady who was a guest speaker at our Annual Awards Luncheon. Anna addressed the audience comprising Primary and Secondary pupils, teachers and headmasters and other guests including Action MS Youth Patron Connor Phillips.
Anna is a year 13 student at St Patrick’s Academy, Dungannon and she re counted how much she had enjoyed taking part in the Walk for MS when she was a student in year 9 and how then she had no idea that in a few short years she herself would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her vibrancy, honesty, confidence and ability to relate to the audience was captivating.
Anna stressed the importance of fundraising for Action MS and the difference the support and friendship she has been shown has made to her life. She encouraged the schools to continue to get involved in the Walk for MS 2015 programme which is a fun day out while at the same time supporting a great cause.
The Action MS strap line ‘A little Action can go a long way’ is certainly very true in relation to Anna.