‘THIS WAY UP’ | Making friends and sharing stories

‘THIS WAY UP’ CHARITY EVENT FOR MS HOSTED BY THE TONIC

From tight to left, Andy McKenna, Aneela McKenna and Kate Henderson of The Tonic  (photo credit Sim Mainey)

EVENT DATE: SATURDAY 13TH OCTOBER 2018

VENUE: THE BIRCHCLIFFE CENTRE, HEBDEN BRIDGE

On Saturday 13th The Tonic ‘This Way Up’ event brought together a more-than-expected crowd to witness 2 very inspirational people tell their story of how they are living with multiple sclerosis. Andy McKenna, Scottish mountain bike guide, has suffered with MS for 10 years and last year made an award-winning documentary called This Way Up. Andy and his wife Aneela run GoWhere Scotland and both travelled down to co-host the event with us at The Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge to raise money for 2 charities that have helped him with his battle – The Swank Foundation and Overcoming MS. Through ticket sales and a raffle they raised £750.

The ride-out crew with Andy McKenna front left, Kate Henderson of The Tonic to his right and Aneela McKenna with our Tonic stickers audaciously positioned!

The day started with a wonderful mountain bike ride out where Ben Clayton, local enduro racer and Daniel Blaydon from Hope Tech led a group of 20 riders around some classic Calder Valley trails. The ride ended back at the Birchcliffe centre where Out To Lunch laid on an MS friendly menu of curries and Hebden Craft Catering supplied the bar. It was fantastic crowd of supporters including bikers and MS sufferers.

People starting to gather for the evening event at The Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge  (photo credit Sim Mainey)

Aneela McKenna promotes women in biking and presented her short film Going Places. This was followed by the extraordinary film The Ridge by Red Bull of mountain biker Danny MacAskill and final short called ‘Moist’ which Andy made with Great Rock’s Ed Oxley.

The final film of the evening was Andy’s most recent and the focus of the evening, This Way Up, a brutally honest story of how him and Aneela are dealing with the disease and his pharma-free approach. Relying on juicing, CBD oil, rest and exercise to control his symptoms, which for years left him numb and unable to feel the handlebars or his feet on the pedals. This was followed by an informal, open and honest q&a and chat with the audience. There was a lot of laughter, wonder and occasional tears.

One audience member, Sue Randle,  was so inspired by Andy’s talk, that she joined him on the stage to movingly tell of her battle with MS, Hypothyroidism, EDS and Cancer. In many ways this moment showed the importance of this type of event and the aim to promote understanding of this condition.

Sue Randle said “I’m so glad that I walked into The Tonic and got the help I have needed for so long. I have MS, Cancer and a couple other health problems .. I bought 2 types of oil only FIVE days ago and already I have noticed improvement particularly my ‘dancing fingers’. Thanks to MS my fngers often look as though they have a mind of their own and start playing piano. I’m sure if there was one it would sound REALLY good haha, but you’re not going to get to see that because I am 100% certain that thanks to this oil my dancing fingers are no more! For anyone who is uncertain go and have a talk don’t be afraid to ask questions don’t be afraid to say what’s wrong where you need help. Just Do It x”

Michelle Oxley, centre, director of The Tonic with our wonderful friends and volunteers Niamh & Joanna

The generosity of local business ensured that raffle prizes were fantastic. Michelle and I want to extend our gratitude to the donators. Prizes included a years subscription to SingleTrack Magazine, an Orange Crush bike frame from Orange Bikes and Blazing Saddles, clothes voucher for Dynamite Clothing, a Roka Rucksack from RubyShoesDay, Kate Ambler donated a nights stay in her Air BnB, Purity Brewing donated ale, The London Bike show gave away 5x tickets, HebTroCo trousers, and Happy Bottom Bum Butter from Charlie the Bikemonger!

A huge thank you must be given to the volunteers who helped with running the evening, especially Mike Shillabeer sound tech, Northern Powerhouse and William Bell wrapped up the evening with some fantastic music. And Sim Mainey and Paul Murphy for the photography.

The biggest thank you is for everyone that joined us at this extremely positive and inspirational event…so thank you to all our well-being revolutionaries.

Jude Goddard said I felt a great buzz in the air. The event was full of love and hope. I so enjoyed listening to Andy’s story and being part of the event (although I can not ride a bike) I learned a lot about self care and the power of the human spirit. Andy’s talk also helped me learn something about myself.”

Michelle and I and Andy McKenna were brought together when Matt Letch, local mountain biker and owner of Out to Lunch, who made us aware of Andy’s connection with CBD to help ease some of the symptoms of MS and for that they thank him.

Matt and Emily Letch, of Out to Lunch, laying on some amazing MS friendly curries (photo credit Sim Mainey)

We look forward to hosting another event in the near future!

You can still donate and read more about Andy’s story at stokedonms.org.uk and follow his often funny and inspirational posts on instagram at @stokedonms

The man himself, Andy McKenna, during one of the films screened  (photo credit Sim Mainey)

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