Apr 072017
 

With thanks to Eoin Smith, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

Mark Milne, who will be taking part in Etape Loch Ness, to raise money for a trust set up for his son, Alfie. The youngster has a rare and incurable disease and the fund provides support to other patients with the condition.

The father of a young boy with a rare and incurable disease is saddling up and getting on his bike to
help parents around the world
whose children have also been struck down by the same debilitating condition.
Mark Milne, whose son, Alfie, is one of an estimated 250 people worldwide to have been diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis, will take on Etape Loch Ness to raise money for research into the disease and to fund patient support services.

The Alfie Milne Trust was launched by Mark and his wife, Tracy, after their son was diagnosed with lymphangiomatosis at less than a year old.

The condition leads to the formation of benign tumours of the lymphatic system which can grow anywhere in the body, and due to their massive expansion can cause severe and life-threatening complications.

Mark (48) will join thousands of other cyclists in completing a 66-mile route around the iconic loch on April 23 – and in doing so he hopes to spread the word about the condition and give patients better access to support services.

The couple from Aberdeen found it hard to get any information about the disease because it is so rare: it is thought that Alfie is one of only 250 estimated cases in the world and one of only 15 in the UK.

They want their fund-raising, which currently stands at over £200,000, will help other patients living with lymphangiomatosis by raising awareness of support services and by providing grants to medical bodies.

Mark says,

“Before we launched the Trust, I would be the one who would be standing at the finish line at sporting events, smoking a cigarette and watching everyone else do the hard work. But we’ve done lots of events to raise money since 2012 and although I am still no fitness freak, I’ve completed a couple of bike rides,10Ks and half marathons.

“I’m actually going to be doing a 10K the day before Etape Loch Ness, so I’m not sure how I will be feeling for the event. I’ve always fancied doing this one because it is so beautiful up there, and I think the fact that it is on closed roads will make it really special.”

Alfie, who is now aged nine, was a happy and healthy boy for the first eight months of his life. However, his parents noticed that one of his legs was swollen and after x-rays were carried out, doctors also identified a curve in his spine.

After an MRI scan, the family travelled to Great Ormand Street Hospital in London where the diagnosis of lymphangiomatosis was made. The disease was in Alfie’s right leg, pelvic area and in the marrow of some bones, and it was also preventing his blood from clotting.

His health rapidly deteriorated: while he was still in London he suffered internal bleeding, frequently high temperatures and had to undergo countless blood transfusions – he was so poorly that his parents and doctors feared the worst. However, he battled through and some weeks later was well enough to return to Aberdeen to undergo chemotherapy.

From there on, the family has had to watch as Alfie – who was five by the time he took his first steps – has endured numerous stays in hospital, blood transfusions, drug therapies and various treatment plans.

His leg has deteriorated and Alfie has not been able to walk unaided since 2012. However, the family hope there will be a drastic improvement in his mobility after undergoing specialist surgery at the start of the year.

Mark explains,

“Last year we learned about a procedure that could be performed on Alfie’s leg to try and straighten it, with the hope of allowing him to walk unaided.

“Surgery is always very difficult with Alfie’s condition because of the high risks of infection and lymphatic leakage, but after undergoing lots of physiotherapy to prepare him for the surgery, we went ahead with it.

“The surgery was carried out at Great Ormand Street and it went really, really well. It was a success but it’s down to Alfie now to work on the physiotherapy and battle through it to get up on his own feet. As with any condition like this, we have good days and we have bad days.

“When Alfie was diagnosed we really struggled to find out information about his condition because it is so rare. We hope that other families, regardless of where they are in the world, will be able to benefit from the work of the Alfie Milne Trust, so that getting the support they need becomes easier.”

Further details about Alfie’s Trust are available at www.alfiemilne.org.uk and donations to Mark’s fund-raising efforts can be made on uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarkMilne  

Thousands of cyclists, many of them raising money for good causes including official charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support, are gearing up to take part in Etape Loch Ness on April 23.

Starting and finishing in Inverness, the 66-mile route follows the north side of the loch and then loops round at Fort Augustus to return via the south side. Once past Fort Augustus, cyclists face the toughest challenge of the course – a 4.8 mile climb rising to 380m in height at the Glendoe Summit.

Etape Loch Ness has grown to become one of the nation’s best loved cycling events and places this year sold out in a record 50 hours. Further information about the event is available at www.etapelochness.com and regular updates also appear on social media at facebook.com/etapelochness and @EtapeLochNess on Twitter.

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Feb 072017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

L-R, Paul Whitecross, Nick Nairn and Ross Spence.

Three of Scotland’s finest chefs are teaming up to share their passion for food in a unique culinary experience, which is set to be a recipe for success for Aberdeen.
Nick Nairn, Ross Spence, executive chef at The Marcliffe Hotel & Spa and Paul Whitecross, executive chef at Trump International, will each present an individual course aimed at delighting the senses, showcasing their world-renowned gastronomic skills.

The trio are working together to cook-up Savour, a culinary feast which will take place on Saturday, 4th March, at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa.

The event is being hosted alongside North East Sensory Services (NESS), a charity which supports people of all ages from babies to grandparents, who were born deaf or blind, or for those who have lost their sight or hearing.

The chefs will each create a course for the gastronomic adventure, focusing on the senses of taste, smell and sight, which coincides with the charity’s work with people with sensory issues.

Ross Spence said:

“It’s fantastic to be able to work with Nick and Paul for this event and we will present a superb overall dinner which will thoroughly delight the guests. NESS is an important charity in Aberdeen and across the North-east, supporting more and more people with hearing or sight loss, and we are delighted to host this unique evening.”

Paul Whitecross added:

“The team at Trump International is always keen to support charities which are important to the North-east community and this is set to be a fantastic foodie event to tantalise the tastebuds of the diners who are lucky enough to secure a place at this exclusive event.” 

Nick Nairn commented:

“Given our position with the business and our commitment to the North-east we wanted to be able to give something back to the community that supports us.  NESS is an excellent charity and it’s a wonderful opportunity and a wee challenge to create a feast which excites the senses.”

NESS CEO Graham Findlay said:

“We are delighted that these prestigious chefs are taking the time to devise and present a unique menu for NESS. We are looking forward to an incredible evening, which will excite the senses.

“Nick, Ross and Paul are great supporters of NESS and the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa has been a very good friend to the charity for many years.”

As well as a four-course dinner focusing on the senses of taste, smell, and sight, the evening will include a champagne drinks reception, a VIP auction and raffle, followed by entertainment and dancing.

Savour will take place on Saturday, 4th March, 2017, at the Marcliffe Hotel & Spa. Tables are priced at £950, with individual tickets available at £95, and can be purchased from neil.skene@nesensoryservices.org or by calling 0345 271 2345.

Issued by Frasermedia Ltd on behalf of NESS.

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Jan 062017
 

With thanks to Yvette Rayner, PR Account Manager, Frasermedia.

NESS CEO, Graham Findlay

A 137-year-old north-east charity is looking forward to continued success after celebrating its best year ever in 2016.  North East Sensory Services (NESS), which has centres in Aberdeen, Dundee and Elgin, won four new contracts in 2016 to offer its services to over a thousand additional blind and deaf people across Scotland, bringing the number of people it supports to over 5,500.

In Dundee, NESS has provided support to deaf people since April 2013, and in October the charity won a tender to expand its services to blind people, enabling it to offer a joint sensory service, including rehabilitation and practical advice, under one roof.

As a result, those with both hearing and sight loss will be able to access help in one visit. NESS will also offer additional services to Dundee and Angus in 2017, including IT support and employment advice.

Additionally, NESS successfully tendered to continue its popular service for blind and deaf people in Moray, as well as winning two separate contracts to provide blind and deaf services on behalf of Angus Council.

In July, the charity won the Investors in People, ‘Excellence in the Third Sector’ international award after achieving the Investors in People Gold Standard in March, following a comprehensive analysis of the charity’s people management.

NESS has also recently launched a revolutionary new website designed for easy use by those who have very poor vision, offering advice on living with sensory loss and detailed information on support services available across the North-east.

Furthermore, NESS played an important role in sight loss research by hosting the Aberdeen Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) Information Day in September, which saw scientists share the latest RP genetic research advances.

NESS CEO, Graham Findlay, said:

“Despite challenging times, 2016 was a milestone year for NESS. We are delighted to have won four competitive tenders, which are the result of a great deal of hard work and dedication by every member of staff and volunteer at NESS. 

“Joint sensory services are a major step forward and NESS has been a pioneer in providing help and advice for blind and deaf people under one roof. Many older people have difficulties with both vision and hearing, so being able to access support for both senses in one place is a major advantage.

“Demand for our services is increasing due to an ageing population, so it is important that we continue to develop our services and expand.

“Blind and deaf people rely upon the support we provide, to help them achieve greater independence, so the charity is constantly evolving to ensure we are able to help service users lead life to the full. In 2017, we will continue to look for new ways to support our service users and help as many people as we can.”

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Jul 262012
 

Reforestation could benefit Scotland’s economy by boosting wildlife tourism, claims conservation charity Trees for Life, which has announced ambitious plans to double its current rate of restoration work in Scotland’s Caledonian forest. This will see the establishment of one million more trees within five years, through planting and natural regeneration. With thanks to Richard Bunting.

The charity, which aims to restore the Caledonian Forest to an area of over 2500 square km in the Scottish Highlands, has launched its Million More Trees campaign in a response to deforestation, climate change and biodiversity loss.

But their ambitions could also bring significant benefits to Scotland’s economy by boosting wildlife tourism.

Alan Watson Featherstone, the charity’s Executive Director, explains,

“Establishing a million new native trees in the next five years represents a significant scaling up of our work. We have set ourselves this challenge as a response to the threats posed by environmental degradation globally, and human-induced climate change.

“At the same time, it is part of a positive vision of re-establishing world-class wild landscapes rich in wildlife in Scotland. The Highlands in particular, with a lot of empty land and a low population density, is a perfect region for tree planting.

“With wildlife tourism already generating an estimated £276m a year for the Scottish economy, it’s clear that restoring the Caledonian forest and its unique wildlife to an inspiring, spectacular wilderness region of a thousand square miles, could have significant economic as well as environmental benefits for the country.” 

In a report published this month, Tourism Intelligence Scotland estimated that every year over a million visits are made to Scotland to view wildlife. Launching the report, Tourism Minister Fergus Ewing said that 58% of visitors to Scotland cite scenery and landscape as the main reason for choosing our country as a holiday destination.

Trees for Life’s plans for the next year include significant planting of native trees on its Dundreggan estate near Loch Ness, a natural regeneration project in a Caledonian forest remnant in Glen Strathfarrar, and undertaking work to protect regenerating aspens and the planting of new aspen seedlings at Scatwell, north of Inverness.

Since 1989, the charity has created 4000 hectares of new Caledonian forest, and has worked at 45 different locations. A complex web of life is already renewing itself in these emerging forests. Habitat restoration is making a notable impact on wildlife such as strawberry spiders, wood ants, red squirrels, rare sawflies, ospreys and capercaillies.

Since planting its first trees in 1991 in Glen Affric, Trees for Life has planted over one million trees, the major milestone being reached in May 2012 when acclaimed wildlife cameraman and BBC filmmaker Gordon Buchanan planted that one millionth tree. In this time, the charity has won awards including the 1991 UK Conservation Project of the Year, the Millennium Marque in 2000 and Top 10 Conservation Holidays worldwide in 2009.

The first tree of the Million More Trees campaign was planted at Dundreggan by the Highland naturalist, author and presenter, Roy Dennis, Trees for Life patron.

Readers can support Trees for Life by funding dedicated trees and groves, and it offers Conservation Holiday Weeks to allow people to gain practical conservation experience in beautiful locations.

More Info – www.treesforlife.org.uk
Tel. 0845 458 3505.

Image credit:  TREE OVER SUN © Egidijus Mika | Dreamstime.com

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