A group based in the Northern Isles is seeking to raise funds for research into multiple sclerosis (MS) in Orkney and Shetland.
The project has grown out of the local branch of the MS Society, where, according to group member Tom Stove, there has been a long-running feeling that “research should be done in Shetland, where the prevalence of MS is the highest in the world, never mind in Britain”.
That feeling has now translated into action and the group has enlisted renowned Orcadian scientist Jim Wilson to lend his support to the idea.
Dr Wilson “has accumulated a lot of data over the years – blood samples – in Orkney and Shetland”, Mr Stove said. Indeed, he is ideally placed to take the idea forward, and has already found a candidate to carry out the required work as a PhD project.
The group has now applied for charitable status, and once that is secured they will begin “fund-raising on a serious basis”.
Mr Stove said: “The challenge is to raise £10,000 a year, between Orkney and Shetland, over three years, and that money will be matched by £30,000 from Edinburgh University, which we thought was too good a deal to pass. So we’ve embarked on doing that.”
Already the first donations have begun to come in. A cheque for £100 recently arrived from an Orcadian man who had heard Dr Wilson promoting the project. A note accompanying the cheque explained that the man had friends with MS and wanted to make a contribution.
The first fund-raising venture took place earlier this summer when Irene Bray and Lorraine Kemp completed the West Highland Way, walking the 96 miles from Milngavie to Fort William.
Despite a very wet first day, Lorraine said, the pair “had good weather for the remaining time. It was cool and sunny and really lovely walking weather. There were no midgies either because of the time of year … which was really good. The pathways were quite good but some of the way was quite challenging, quite rocky and stony, and very up and down.”
Lorraine has a brother with MS and is keen to raise money for the new research group. Anyone who would like to donate money for the walk can contact her on (01950) 431436.
The Orkney and Shetland MS Research Project will begin fund-raising properly later this year.