A GLENGORMLEY woman who dedicates her time to helping people affected by rare and devastating muscle disease has been honoured by a national charity as its Volunteer of the Year for Northern Ireland.
Frances Ashe, who has bethlem myopathy - a form of muscular dystrophy - has been volunteering for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign for 15 years and was nominated by charity staff for the award. She is an active fundraiser and media representative, a member of the charity’s Northern Ireland Council and a hard-working campaigner for improved services for people affected by muscle disease. She is also a founding member of the Muscleteers fundraising committee; playing a significant role in organising several major fundraising events over the past year including concerts, supermarket bag packs and party nights.
Frances, who also recently took part in a sponsored zipline challenge across the River Lagan, is being recognised in an online photo gallery of people who have helped to support the 70,000 people in the UK affected by muscle-wasting disease and their families. The online gallery project has been organised to coincide with National Volunteers Week (June 1 - 7).
Muscular dystrophy and related conditions cause muscles to weaken and waste over time, leading to increasing disability, and in many cases, significantly shortening life-expectancy.
Encouraging others to get involved and volunteer with the charity, Frances said: “The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign has supported myself and my daughter Aliyah, who also has muscular dystrophy, for many years and been a great source of practical and emotional support. It is very rewarding volunteering for the charity and fulfilling to know that I am playing my part in helping to continue to improve treatments and find cures for muscle disease.”
The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Volunteering Fundraising Manager, Glenn Oakes added: “The support of our volunteers is invaluable to us. As a charity that relies entirely on voluntary donations, it is only with the help of people like Frances who generously donate their time to our work that we can offer the kind of help and services that we do. They help us with everything from organising and running fundraising events and manning phones to raising awareness about muscular dystrophy through the media and campaigning for specialist healthcare. We want to show our gratitude for the energy and time that Frances has invested in helping to change the lives of thousands of families hit by muscle-wasting conditions.”
To view the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign’s Volunteers Week gallery, or for more information about the charity’s work, log on to www.muscular-dystrophy.org