Fundraising Stories

Here are some of the events that our patients, former patients, their families and our staff have run to raise money for The Optimum Health Clinic and our clinical trials.

Robin Smyrl – Movember

Robin a patient at the clinic took part Movember 2018 and raised over £700 and grew some pretty impressive facial hair.
Heres what he had to say about his fundraiser, 
“I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family and the OHC community, so would like to say a massive thank you to all those who donated and sent messages of support. I’m delighted to be able to contribute to the amazing work the clinic is doing, which has been of great help to me over the past two years, as well as others I’ve met through the clinic. It’s definitely a fundraising idea I would recommend for those who are capable of growing facial hair, but maybe not so capable of doing more active events – don’t think I’ve ever helped contribute so much by doing so little (although applying moustache conditioning oil is a quite laboursome process)!”


Gemma Wardell and friends – Gung Ho 5k course

Gemma, a psychology practitioner at the clinic and some friends completed a Gung Ho 5k challenge to raise money for our research programme. They had a great time on the world’s largest inflatable obstacles and finished with Europe’s biggest ever inflatable slide and a huge amount of foam! Having recovered from ME several years ago, Gemma has remained passionate about helping others recover from this debilitating condition and strongly believes that the OHC approach should be available to all via the NHS. The team raised over £900 with their event.


Landa Acevedo-Scott and her family – The Color Run Hero Tour

Landa, her husband Kevin and children Kika and Mylo danced, ran and walked the 5K Color Run Hero Tour at Wembley Park on the 8th July 2018 in the name of all those heroines and heroes who very courageously live with ME day in, day out. Landa is a recovering patient with the clinic who wanted to support our randomised control study with the University of Surrey. She raised over £400 but also raised awareness for ME and CFS.


OHC Team – Go Ape

On 2nd July 2018 some of the OHC team took part in a Go Ape challenge at Alexandra Palace that included, hitting platforms as high as 12 metres, three levels of adventures, challenging aerial routes, a 46ft plummet, high-speed zips, free-fall Tarzan Swing and daring crossings. Over £600 was raised and it was a great day with some people overcoming their fear of heights and others challenging their physical limits – there were a few achy muscles in the days afterwards!  You can view the photos here and videos here.


Kirsty and Dugald Cullen – Tatton 10k

In April 2018 Kirsty, a nutritional therapist at the clinic and her husband Dugald ran the Tatton 10k. This was a particular challenge for them as Dugald shattered his heel bone following a motorbike accident, and was told that he would most likely not be able to run again, Kirsty formerly a keen runner then broke her ankle whilst running on an off-road trail leading to a 2 year break from running. Despite this they completed the race and raised over £1,200, heres what they had to say about their fundraiser, “We just wanted to say that we are absolutely over the moon with the fundraising response and want to say a huge thank you to all of those people – patients, friends and family – that took the time to sponsor us. This motivation definitely pushed us on during the race”.


Amanda Riley – A month of not swearing

Amanda, the sister of a patient with the clinic challenged herself to give up swearing for a month, to give her an added layer of motivation she pledged to donate £5 for each day there was a slip up. Heres what Amanda had to say about she fundraiser, ‘”So my challenge is over and although there were a fair few slip ups I am pleased to say that there were far more success days, I shall be donating £50 as promised to compensate for the 10 days that I neglected to control my mouth and thank you to all my amazing friends and family who have donated”.


Melanie Shah – January cleanse

For the whole of January 2018, Melanie, a recovered patient of the clinic cut out sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffeine and dairy to raise money for our Sofa Heroes fundraising campaign.  It’s not an easy task for her and this is the second year running she has taken on the challenge to raise money for the clinic, this year she raised over £200.  Heres how she found it, “I’m glad I can have cake again! But I know that I won’t really change my diet of the last month because I’m feeling great from the detox. I’ll probably stick to my usual 80% rule which gives flexibility and takes the pressure off the psychological cravings. I’ve found the best tool of the last month to be in the positive way I’ve seen the challenge, and the warm fuzzy feeling of giving. Good luck to OHC in all their wonderful work! Thank you for the support and donations”.


Jenny Russell-Cairns – Celebration of recovery

Throughout January 2018 Jenny, a former patient at the clinic ran a fundraiser of doing something every day that she couldn’t when she was ill, firstly to show how simple things are so challenging with this illness but also to celebrate her recovery by doing things that are physically and mentally out of her comfort zone.  She raised over £700 by doing a range of things from a skiing lesson to cooking, playing with her nephew and going to the theatre with friends, you can see all of her months activities on her JustGiving page.
Jenny said, “It’s been a really emotional experience, St Paul’s Cathedral has to be the highlight as stairs were my nemesis! But it’s the little things that I found most significant, people from the clinic talking about cleaning, washing their hair – the normal activities that give you a sense of purpose but are taken away. I am even more grateful now for the OHC and their support in helping me recover”.

Tammy Hubble – Specific carbohydrate diet

Tammy, a nutritional therapist at the clinic followed the Specified Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) for 4 weeks to raise money for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ campaign.  She chose to do this to be supportive to our nutrition patients who are following this diet, as patients can struggle with it and its limitations, also to do it properly as well as avoiding too much weight loss, it requires a lot of effort.  As well as raising over £300, Tammy documented some of her recipes, which were posted on her JustGiving page and our Facebook page, she just asks, “If you do use a recipe, please donate a small amount if you are able”.


Katie Dean – Guess the number of beads in the cupcake

For the month of November 2017 Katie, a patient at the clinic ran a fundraiser of receiving donations to guess the number of beads in her cupcake to win it. Katie raised over £1,000 and also raised awareness of ME and CFS through her blogging.  Heres what she had to say about her month of fundraising, “I didn’t know what to expect when I offered to do this fundraiser. A big motivating factor was wanting to give back to the clinic and to help others get access to the help I get. I didn’t anticipate that this would be such an emotional experience but in choosing to use my campaign to try and spread some awareness about CFS/ME, by writing a lot on my blog it brought up lots of emotions. It has tested my ‘achiever patterns’ too. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, but most proud of the fact that I haven’t relapsed in the process! I have ended with a massive feeling of gratitude to everyone who donated and sent me supportive messages. Here’s hoping for more steps forward for everyone with CFS/ME!”.  In case you were wondering there were 6,000 beads in it.


Sofija Matich – Reading Unrest screenings

Sofija a recovering patient with the clinic hosted not one, but two screenings of Unrest at the Forbury Hotel in Reading raising over £1,200 for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ campaign, whilst also helping to raise awareness about ME & CFS.
As well as the screenings she gave talks explaining the challenges of living with this illness, held raffles for some pretty amazing prizes and finished the afternoons with drinks and informal discussions about the film.
Sofija said, “I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Forbury Hotel who provided the superb venue, by the wealth of the donations from friends and organisations to the raffle and of course from all who attended“.


Emily Goddard – London Unrest screening 

Emily, a patient at the clinic has run two fundraisers for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ fundraising campaign, firstly she sold off some of her furniture and secondly she hosted a screening of Unrest at the Horse Hospital in London, in total she raised over £2,100!  The event sold out with a great mix of people, some who had first-hand experience of ME/CFS, but also those who were new to it. The film was followed by a fantastic Q&A with Alex Howard, Fane Mensah (a UCL PhD student studying the immunology of ME/CFS) and Georgie Morrell (actor, comedian, writer and disabilities activist) and was moderated by Sue Llewellyn (a former BBC Newsroom reporter and producer). To close there was a raffle full of health and wellness themed prizes. Emily said “Thank you so much to everyone who supported the event in person and from afar! It was a pleasure to put together for such an important cause“.


Laura Cummins – Skin consultations

Laura, a recovering patient with the clinic used her 25 years of experience in the skincare industry to raise money for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ fundraising campaign in September and October 2017.  She offered skin care consultations for suggested donation of £10 which also included a skin care freebie.  Working with people face to face, over Skype, dealing with skin sensitivities (very common in ME, CFS and Fibromyalgia patients), skin dryness and giving advice on which products to use, she raised over £400.  Laura said, “It’s been a real pleasure and very rewarding to use my knowledge and skills to help people improve their skin routine and raise funds for the randomised control trial. And personally, getting back into some work-like activity has definitely helped with my own recovery – Win win win


Merv Hunt & Melodie Roberts – Great South Run

Merv & Melodie, husband and friend of a patient who is also our fundraising manager ran the Great South Run for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ campaign in October 2017.  The conditions were rather windy, particularly on the sea front, but despite that Mel achieved her personal best time of 1:33 and Merv completed it in 1:18, they raised over £500 for their efforts.  Heres what Merv had to say about the run, “Its a great event every year, I’m a little disappointed I didn’t make 1:15 but I’m happy that I finished and raised some cash for a cause that is so close to our hearts”.


Jenny Sherman – 30 days of blogging

Jenny, a patient of the OHC completed 30 days of blogging on ‘Tips and tricks for Sofa Heroes’ which incorporated things she learn’t over the last 7 years of living with a chronic illness.  Each day she blogged on something different, from nutrition to relaxation and many things in between.  Her fundraiser is ongoing so have a look at her content here and if you find something useful or learn something, make a donation.  Jenny said “As a patient of the OHC I’ve found many useful tools and support for increasing my quality of life with ME/CFS.  I share some of my favourite tips over 30 days that I hope will help other patients (and everyday people!) boost their health and wellness.  Completing this challenge was an adventure for me, and a great refresher in some of the simpler things I can do to feel better.  It also helped me remember that even with ME/CFS I can accomplish goals I set my mind to in bite-size tasks.  I did this fundraiser because I believe people with ME/CFS deserve to have access to the services and support that the OHC offers”.


Gemma Hunt – A rejuvenating morning

Gemma a patient of the clinic and our Fundraising manager ran a rejuvenating morning of yoga, meditation and gluten free, sugar free snacks at her local community centre in September 2017.  She had 31 people come and join her for the mornings activities and raised over £600 towards the ‘Sofa Heroes’ fundraising campaign.  Heres how she found running an event while still in recovery, “I was honestly nervous about holding an event like this when not yet fully recovered, however being organised and recruiting help from my sister and husband made it all achievable and everyones generosity made it worth it!  It was also a bit of a celebration of my recovery to this point, to be able to share some of the things that have helped me with family, friends, members of the community and others recovering from ME/CFS who reached out to me”.


Glynn and Sandra Gratrix – Olympic triathlon

Glynn (our Director of Finance) and his wife Sandra completed an Olympic triathlon at their local Nuffield Health Gym in August 2017. Glynn covered 20km cycling and 10km running while Sandra covered 20km cycling and 1.5km swimming.  It was an amazing effort from both who are in their 60’s, they trained for 3 months with the help of their coach Elliott, who is an expert in Triathlon and Ironman races.  Despite a calf injury for Glynn in training they enjoyed the challenge and raised over £700, they are already thinking about another event for next year!  Glynn said, “Having the goal of getting fit enough for the triathlon at the end of August was key to our completing the challenge, it gave us the motivation to overcome the setbacks, like the calf injury, as well as the doubts that we would be ready in time.  Having that clear focus is really helpful in achieving any difficult undertaking or project”.


Nikkie Wignall – A month of exercise

Nikkie, former patient and now a practitioner at the clinic, challenged herself to complete a form of exercise every day for a month in August 2017 to raise money for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ campaign. She included exercises that were appropriate at each stage of recovery and then finished the challenge at Reading festival walking the site and dancing in Super hero fancy dress. She raised over £1100, here’s what she said about her month long fundraiser, “I did everything from energy medicine exercises to water mobility.  Many were suitable for calming the system which is so vital to the CFS/ME/Fibromyalgia recovery journey and the odd one – like dancing to your favourite music which I did at Reading festival – much more appropriate for when you are fully recovered”.


Helen Lynam – Walk ‘to work’ for a month

Helen the Director of Nutrition at the OHC was the first person to take part in an event for our ‘Sofa Heroes’ fundraising campaign that launched in June 2017.  She challenged herself to get up early every morning for the month of July and walk ‘to work’, there is however a twist, Helen actually works from home most days, but that didn’t stop her and she raised over £800.  Helen said, “Wow, what a month, I have been blessed with sunshine most mornings (I only got rained on once) and the most amazing generosity and support.  I do think I will be up and out early a couple of days a week now – though I may just spend the time doing some gardening.  Across those mornings, I walked for a total of 94km and did 105,870 steps, the shortest walk I did was actually the day I went into London, that was 28mins, most of the time I got carried away and walked over an hour quite a few times”.


Melanie Shah – Dry January

Melanie a former patient at the clinic, pledged to complete a month free of caffeine, alcohol, gluten & sugar for The Optimum Health Clinic, in her words – “The team at the OHC are trail blazers in the treatment and research of ME, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.  They are professional, imaginative, caring and dedicated to their clients and I have experienced this first hand.  Their vision to make this revolutionary work more accessible to the wider community is to be applauded. That’s why I made my “Dry January” in 2016 officially in aid of the OHC. I was able to spread the word about their good deeds as well as give myself some extra willpower to stick to my goal of going clean for a month.  It’s not actually that hard when you know how beneficial it is for your health. I successfully steered clear of caffeine, alcohol, gluten and sugar.  I did dream of tiramisu quite often but I made it through.  Mostly I wanted to give something back to say thanks. And it’s time I get planning for my next fundraising activity for these guys”. Melanie raised over £100 and felt great in the process. 


Nikkie and Micheal Wignall – Wedding

Nikkie a former patient of the clinic and her husband to be decided that rather than the traditional wedding gifts they would like their guests to make a donation to the OHC. Nikkie said, “Our first hand experience of M.E. and the amazing work that the Optimum Health Clinic are doing to progress NHS treatment is the reason we are supporting this extremely worthwhile cause” and in doing so they raised over £1200.


Simon Limpus – Bonfire and Fireworks Night and Siberia Motor Bike Trip

Simon (a former patient and OHC’s first ever employee back in 2004!) 
organised a bonfire night with fireworks and various stalls on 12th November 2011.  The event was attended by around 80 people, with the festivities apparently continuing to 6:00 in the morning! Some of the highlights included Simon managing to get hold of over £1k of fireworks for £50 (its a very long story!) with people commenting it was the better than their local town display, there was also a tug of war event and a charity auction. All together £1,123.46 was raised and a huge amount of fun was had.

Simon also motor biked 2500km across Siberia in temperatures ranging from –35 to 60! He raised over £1700 for the Clinic while having an adventure to challenge himself both mentally and physically. You can watch a video with Simon and Alex about his journey with ME/CFS and the fundraising event in support of The Optimum Health Clinic by clicking here

Ian Hatton – Coast to Coast Cycle

Ian, whose daughter has been a patient at OHC, completed a mammoth coast to coast cycle in July 2011, raising over £2000 for the foundation. Ian said, “The ride was fantastic. Scenery was such that you wished you had a video camera strapped to your helmet, and the weather was so kind to us, not a drop of rain, and the wind wasn’t too strong. Quite an achievement for us all, and I’m delighted to have been able to increase the awareness of the work you do, and raise a bit of funding for the future”.


Nancy Poller – 15 Peaks Walk

Nancy, a former patient of the clinic, walked the 15 peaks of the Malvern Hills in June 2011, raising almost £1000. In Nancy’s words, “Well…I did it! 7 hours, 15 peaks and lots of sandwiches…We walked from Chase End hill at the very South end of the Malverns all the way to North Hill, crossing through Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire along the way! I climbed every one of the 15 peaks on the route, with brill support from Andy and Dad. Buckets of thanks to everyone who sponsored me and supported me! Thinking of all the people who were behind me really helped, especially on the last few peaks when energy levels were flagging!”


The Optimum Health Clinic Firewalk

January 2009 saw the first ever Optimum Health Clinic Foundation firewalk, and what an exciting event it was.  A rather brave (or just plain stupid!) group of patients and friends of the clinic took on the burning coals with huge enthusiasm, with most of the group choosing to walk across twice.  Included in this group was Alex’s mum, who also stars in one of the best photos of the event.  If anyone ever needs proof of a mothers’ unconditional love, firewalking surely has to be it!


Lindsey Oliver – 10 Mile Run

Former patient Lindsey completed the Great South Run in November 2008, raising
over £500 for the clinic.  Here is her account of the experience,
“I genuinely enjoyed the feeling of running, and I had big moments of feeling really
proud of myself – I was really doing it! And, it was much easier than I thought it might. I crossed the line feeling tired but physically fine, which was brilliant; and I must
admit to being a bit emotional too – I had done something that 4 years ago I never
thought was possible. I also had the added bonus of my race time (1hr 31) – it was
the same as I had done it 16 years ago, which was amazing!”

To run a fundraising event see our Fundraising ideas or our Getting started guide, we also have a Fundraising Pack to help you along the way.