I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis way back in 1990 when, one morning, I woke up and found myself unable to move my legs. The previous day I had been out on my daily run but, overnight, I found myself unable to walk! That was all pretty scary but, luckily for me, my symptoms eased over time, and I ended up able to continue my work (as a Lecturer in Psychology) and most of my previous life (although I have never been able to run properly since that date).
To find out more about my “condition” I joined the Multiple Sclerosis Society and, at their 1995 AGM, I first heard about their wonderful “Multiple Challenge” project, which was giving people with MS the chance to sail round the British Isles. I immediately joined up and, the next Summer, I went sailing for the first time and was hooked.
I sailed on Multiple Challenge every year after that and, in 1999, was chosen as a member of their racing crew for the Fastnet race (I still have the tee-shirt!). As a psychologist I was fascinated by the evidence that, given a chance, PwMS would rise to the challenge of offshore sailing, and I was deeply saddened when the Multiple Challenge project ended in 2003.
Since then, however, I have continued my sailing by serving as sea-staff for the Ocean Youth Trust Scotland on their own Challenge boats (Alba Venturer and Alba Endeavour) and am also a member of the Penguin Cruising Club, which has taken me on sailing holidays to arctic Norway, Menorca, Greece, the west of Ireland and, of course, Scotland.
From the moment I heard about Oceans of Hope I knew that I wanted to get involved and I am delighted to be given the chance to sail from Panama to Galapagos, in the footsteps of my hero, Charles Darwin. I may have MS, but MS certainly doesn’t have me!