Two siblings from Huntingdon are asking Cambridgeshire residents to send in their used stamps to help raise vital funds for the MS Society in honour of their father who lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for years before he passed away.
Last year, Beth Sargent and Derek Dawson, 39 and 58, recycled kilos of stamps and raised more than £2,500 for the MS Society – their best year so far. This year, they’re aiming to raise £3,000, and they’re asking more people – families, individuals and businesses – to get involved.
The Dawson family tradition of collecting stamps started with Beth and Derek’s father John after he was diagnosed with MS in the early 80s. Since then, three generations have come together to raise around £15,000 over the years to support people affected by MS.
In his final years, John was housebound and while he was once a successful business owner, he could no longer hold a traditional job. Having watched her father slowly lose his mobility and independence, Beth says her family was determined to continue the fundraiser after he passed in 2012:
“Even after he could no longer work, dad wanted to keep mentally active, so he got in touch with local businesses and sold their stamps onto Derek who’s a stamp dealer. He did the whole thing voluntarily and donated every penny to the MS Society,” Beth said.
“When he passed, we knew we wanted to carry on his legacy. Even my two children, who are 7 and 9, get involved because they want to do something to remember their grandpa.”
MS is an unpredictable condition that affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. It’s different for everyone, but is often painful and exhausting and can cause problems with how you walk, move, see, think and feel.
Since taking over the fundraiser, Derek and Beth have received letters from long-term collectors about their own connections to MS. Beth says it’s been great to hear from other people affected by what is often an invisible condition:
Beth added: “MS is so unpredictable and different for everyone, but at the same time it’s so prevalent. More and more, I hear from people I’ve known for years about one of their family members being diagnosed or having lived with the condition for years. MS is just not talked about enough and reading those stories has meant so much to us.”
In speaking about how people can get involved, she added: “This fundraiser is such an easy way for people to do something small – by donating something they’d otherwise throw away – to help others in their community. If you have used stamps that could help support people with MS, please send them to MS Stamps, PO BOX 698, Sapley, Huntingdon, PE29 9LN or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Find more information about MS or the MS Society at www.mssociety.co.uk. The MS Society also has a free helpline – 0808 800 8000.