Virgin makes a splash for pool project

A MORPETH-BASED charity’s new pool project has received an early bonus.

To mark the acquisition of Northern Rock, Virgin Money started the year by giving some good causes a cash boost of £2,500 each.

And one of those selected was the MS Research and Relief Fund, which provides a range of services and detailed information to help people whose lives have been affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).

The cash has started off its scheme to buy a hydrotherapy pool for its main centre, Benmar House in Stobhill. It will cost about £330,000 in total.

The facility would help to relieve symptoms, including fatigue and pain, and allow sufferers to exercise gently and safely without causing stress to their bodies.

MS Research and Relief Fund Networking and Marketing Officer Sue Dowson said: “We’re over the moon to receive this grant from Virgin Money, it’s a fantastic start for the appeal.

“A hydrotherapy pool would make a big difference to people who experience severe problems because of their MS.

“Some of them can completely lose the use of their legs, but in the pool they can take part in fitness and relaxation exercises.

“As we’re open 9am to 5pm on weekdays, other groups that help people with neurological problems would be able to use it in the evening and at weekends.

“We will be doing a range of fund-raising events and approaching various foundations for financial support and we will officially launch the appeal with a big event at Close House Golf Club (near Heddon on the Wall) in May. Our target is to open the pool in 2014 to tie in with our 50th anniversary.”

The charity enables people with MS to receive physiotherapy and complementary therapies, as well as attend exercise classes including yoga, all free of charge.

There is also a weekly art class facilitated by service users themselves.

As part of the takeover celebrations, Virgin Money employees were offered the opportunity to help a cause that is close to their heart.

To be in with a chance of winning £2,500 for it, they were asked to describe, in no more than 100 words, the reasons why they felt it should be given a helping hand.

Customer Service Assistant Pat Marshall nominated the MS Research and Relief Fund and she received a pleasant shock when Sir Richard Branson presented the cheque at Virgin Money’s operational headquarters in Gosforth, Newcastle.

She said: “I was really surprised when I found out. This has got the fund-raising for the hydrotherapy pool off to a great start.”