Staff at Smyth Patterson who took part in the marathon recently Susan Davidson, Kelly-Anne Goodfellow, Denise Millar, Julie Nicol, Tanya Parker, Dorothy Dougherty and Helen Murray presenting a cheque to Billy Joe Beck of R.A.M.S.
HUNDREDS of multiple sclerosis sufferers across Northern Ireland have been losing out on much needed treatment since the temporary closure of a Derriaghy charity, according to its assistant manager Vivienne McAloney.
RAMS, Race Against Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centre, in Derriaghy was forced to close three months ago following severe flooding, and it could be November before it re-opens.
As a result many of the 460 sufferers who use the facility have been unable to get physiotherapy, vibrotherapy, electromagnetic stimulation therapy, massage, reflexology and advice on diet, nutrition and counselling that the unit provide.
Instead they have all been directed to other therapy centres in Newry and Larne but for many the distances are just too much for the clients to travel and have had to go without.
RAMS was established in 1985 and offer therapies to MS sufferers, people with ' other neurological conditions, ME, Fibromyalgia, stroke victims and children with cerebral palsy.
In June, the unit was destroyed when it was submerged in two feet of water and raw sewage during the floods. The unit was forced to close and had to turn clients away. Carpets and skirting boards had to be replaced and phones and computers were unworkable. The only room that was saved was the chamber where patients are offered hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Around 30 oxygen masks which will take thousands of pounds to replace were also destroyed. Work has already begun at the premises, doors fitted and painting has started. However, due to the heavy rain during the week the centre has suffered yet another set back with more water leaks.
Vivienne believes that if everything goes according to plan the centre should be open again in the next four weeks. "We have been putting carpet down and getting the walls painted and much of the carpets were put in but unfortunately there have been more leaks and more rain," she said.
"We received money recently from the staff at Smyth Patterson who did the Lisburn Half Marathon which will go towards replacing some of the oxygen masks which were destroyed.
"We have been closed now for 14 weeks and the sufferers have been directed to Newry and Lame.
"Unfortunately, a lot of people think that we have closed for good but that is simply not the case and we want to emphasise that we will re-open. We are hoping for the start of November. We had hoped it would be October but that is unrealistic it is looking more like the start of November."
RAMS relies on fund raising events and donations like those from their Fire Day and recently staff from Smyth Patterson did the Lisburn Marathon and raised £500 which will go towards replacing the masks.
Race Against Multiple Sclerosis (RAMS) was founded in 1985 by a group of MS sufferers and their carers. Apart from therapy treatment, it was considered important to provide a friendly drop-in centre so that sufferers and their carers, families and friends could meet and help each other.