Music is key to 25 years’ MS support

The Oxford Times: Accord: Kate and David Guest are organising the 25th and final Folk For MS concert this Saturday Buy this photo Accord: Kate and David Guest are organising the 25th and final Folk For MS concert this Saturday

THESE folk music lovers have raised £45,000 for sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis since 1989.

But this Saturday, Kate and Dave Guest will organise their 25th and final Folk for MS concert at Grove’s Old Mill Hall.

The couple said the strain of organising the annual event, as well as booking acts for Grove’s three-day White Horse Folk Festival, was overwhelming.

Mrs Guest, 51, a part-time office manager for a Harwell carpentry firm, said: “We thought, ‘if we are going to stop it, the 25th year is the right one’.

“Dave and I have had a number of health issues, and it is just getting a bit much for us.”

But, she said: “It’s flown past. We are very proud of it, the money we have raised.”

Mrs Guest and her husband, who is 61, started the concert series with fellow folkie Bob Hambleton from Reading, after he was diagnosed with MS.

In a twist of fate, Mrs Guest was herself diagnosed with the neurological condition in 2008.

The disease, which is treatable but incurable, is caused because the sheaths around the body’s nerve cells begin to degrade.

Sufferers can experience loss of sight and difficulty with movement and speech.

Folk for MS, which became a registered charity in 2000, has given donations to individual sufferers for therapy and treatment.

It has already raised thousands for the Oxfordshire MS Therapy Centre at Milton Park near Didcot, which provides palliative and support care.

Centre manager Sue Doran said: “We would like to say thank you to Kate and Dave, not only for giving us the money for the new porch, but also for being quiz masters at my annual quiz night for MS at Didcot Conservative Club.

“Everyone here appreciates their hard work and commitment.”

Some 3,000 people suffer from the illness in Oxfordshire.

West Hagbourne resident Bryan Ringrose, 78, has been to every Folk for MS. He said: “Everything about it is excellent. They have such wonderful guests, the artists are top rate, well-known folk artists who play national festivals.

“It will certainly be missed.”

The final concert will be held at the Old Mill Hall, School Lane, Grove, on Saturday. Doors open at 7pm for an 8pm performance start.

Performers include Manchester’s Quicksilver, Swindon-based Tinker’s Bag, and Jim Mageean and the Graeme Knights. Tickets cost £10.

There is also a Ceilidh for MS on Friday from 8pm to 11pm, tickets £8. Both events have a licensed bar.

Tickets available from FolkforMS.org and the Vale and Downland Museum, Wantage.

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