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Ellen Wyatt, 31, is new chairman of MS Society in Ryedale
A YOUNG Ryedale woman who was forced to give up the job she loved due a devastating illness is spearheading a group dedicated to helping those with the same condition.
Ellen Wyatt, 31, was diagnosed with MS in 2008 and had to stop working as a teacher around three years later after a serious relapse in her condition.
Throughout her illness, she has been helped by people from the Ryedale branch of the MS Society, and now she has taken on the role of the group’s chairman.
Ellen said: “When I was really ill the group made such a difference to me. I want to make that difference to other people.
“I want people to know MS is not the be all and end all. You can still live and do lots of exciting things.”
When she was first diagnosed, Ellen’s symptons were stable and she could lead a relatively normal life, including carrying on her work as a teacher at Terrington Hall School. But a huge relapse two years ago changed that.
Ellen said: “Tonnes of things were happening. I had dizziness and whenever I moved my head I would be sick. I couldn’t walk, see or hear. My mobility was gone, I could only sit still.”
But despite doctors’ predictions that she would never walk or drive again, Ellen has, with the help of physiotherapy and drug treatments, slowly taught herself to walk. She describes that time as a “hard slog”, but now she makes sure others have the support that she did, and in taking on her new role, she has become one of the youngest branch chairmen in the country.
Ellen has attended special yoga sessions run by the MS Society branch, and when her condition got so bad she could not make it to the group sessions, the yoga teacher gave her one-to-one sessions. This, coupled with the efforts of a support worker who would phone and visit to check on her, helped Ellen through the worst of her illness, she said.
Now she is especially dedicated to helping young people when they are first diagnosed with the condition.
Ellen said: “There can be bad times with MS, but it’s possible to have brilliant times as well. You can still socialise and live your life.
“I know a lot of people who are diagnosed will wonder what’s going to happen, what it’s going to be like and how bad it is going to get. I want them to know that we are here and we can help them.”
She hopes to reach out to young people who have recently been diagnosed and to start organising events that might appeal to them like meals out and pub trips.
The branch is also looking for new volunteers to help with their events, or at its charity shop in Smiddy Street, Pickering.
Ellen said: “Whether or not they have MS or a connection to MS themselves, people can help in a variety of ways. That’s from being a listening ear for local people affected by MS to visiting people with MS who are isolated or in hospital.
“They could also help out in the shop in Pickering, be an occasional helper at fundraising collections, provide transport so more members can make social activities, accompany members on trips or join the committee. No experience is needed and just a couple of hours a week could help improve the lives of people with MS.”
Anyone interested in volunteering or who wants to find out more, can phone Ellen on 01653 690895 or email email@example.com
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